I am not sure that author, Mandy Hale, intended to describe how to cope with the uncertainty and intensity of labour when she wrote, “You don’t always need a plan. Sometimes you just need to breathe, trust, let go, and see what happens.” In my experience as a registered midwife, however, these are wise words to follow as you prepare for the unexpected in your birth journey.
Trust and Let Go
I remember being pregnant with my first son, Jordan, 23 years ago. I was afraid and desperately sought out support and information looking for someone or something to reassure me it wouldn’t be as painful or difficult as I thought it could be. I beseeched my midwife, imploring her to assure me that if I prepared enough and breathed just right, labour would be easy. I remember her gentle face as she leaned towards me, looked me straight in the eye and told me, “Selina, this is going to be one of the most painful experiences you will have in your life.” And she was right.
However, in her next sentences, she also reminded me that I am biologically designed to do this. That I came from a long line of mothers who have birthed their babies. That this extraordinary pain is just that: it is “pain with purpose” and something to move into as opposed to resist, to fight or to fear. She told me to breathe and reminded me to do so throughout my long prodromal, posteriorly positioned back labour and the magical birth of my son. She wisely did not guarantee me any outcome but assured me that I was not alone and that I was stronger than I knew. And she was right.
Childbirth, I am biologically designed to do this.
I now have similar conversations with my own clients: usually around 34 weeks when it dawns on them that this growing baby has got to come out! It is one of my favourite discussions as I remember how important these words were to me as a birthing mother. I love reminding them that their body is capable. I delight in the relief women experience as I explain to them that contrary to all the messaging out there, women do not need to learn how to birth their babies. Your body already knows how to do that! We just need to get out of our heads to allow our birthing instinct to take over – to surrender into the process of birth and trust our body. It is an unconscious intuitive process. I love seeing the confusion and doubt dissipate as I explain further that we don’t “think” our babies out. Contrary to the rest of our life of remembering to take out the garbage, pick up the mail, or turn on the slow cooker, not once in the course of the day in a pregnancy did you have to think and remember to “develop your baby” or to “grow arms and legs.” Your body knew exactly how to grow this baby without any input from you and likewise it knows how to birth it. We also don’t “muscle” our babies out. No amount of emotional or physical force can control this process. Just like Mandy suggested, we need to trust and let go.
Let your personal birth journey unfold. For it is in the letting go that we open – our bodies and our hearts to this great new love.