Friday, June 25, 2010


How many times have we heard a mom ask "If my mom had short labors, can I hope to have short labors like my mom?". I asked a doctor once if genetics could predict the process of labor in a family. I was told that the only affect would be the shape of a pelvis inherited from a mom. Also I was told that if we looked at a person's sister, we could better have an idea of what this mother's labor would be.

My mom had extremely long labors and so did I for the most part. Was it genetics or just circumstances? I used to think this was genetics - but I don't know that I agree with that anymore.

After attending almost 700 births, I have not seen genetics to play as high a role in the outcome of a birth as I had thought it would.

I have worked with moms who told me their mothers had very short, easy labors - but we have worked through more than a day of labor for this mom. I had a birth recently where her mom had had 3 c/sections and her sister 2. So this mom was concerned that her outcome would run in the same direction as her family - but she tried to prepare well, added a doula to her team, and had a great doctor. Her birth actually went very quickly - pushed only 20 minutes - no problem.

A few years ago I had a family who e-mailed me on her due date that she had agreed to an induction in 2 days. Out of a need to have information - not a criticism of her choice, I wrote back to ask "is there a medical reason for the induction?" This sparked a discussion between the couple - and they opted to decline the induction. Labor came on it's own, we had an unmedicated waterbirth. Only after this did I find out that this mom's family history was a series of inductions - for her mom and sister. So she just assumed that was her lot in childbirth.

So gaining birth stories from families can be interesting to a mom facing labor - but try not to base what your path will be on the history of your family - unless they had wonderful short births - then go with that vision!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Birth = Empowerment

When you first discover you are expecting, the birth stories start flooding in on you. But do the majority of them contain the word "empowerment"?

When a mom makes a goal of an unmedicated birth, and achieves it, I can say that the sense of empowerment is huge! There is so much anxiety before the event, but once they were in it, it was just putting one foot in front of the other until the baby arrived. They now feel have the strength to do anything.

I have also seen this sense of empowerment by moms who have chosen to use medication. They have made goals to reach before getting medication - and have reached their goal - or gone even further than they thought possible - and have come out of their birth feeling so strong.

Why do I think this is important? Labor is a day or two of our lives. But motherhood is a lifelong rewarding challenge. Starting motherhood with a strong sense of our own power really makes a difference.

So the next time you talk to a mom who used a doula on her birth, see if she felt empowered by the experience. Birth is an amazing journey - let it show you the strength you have inside.