Friday, October 7, 2011

When Births Go Right!

I have worked with many families over the years who have a very specific vision of their birth - they have a strong desire to go unmedicated - they are wanting a certain doctor in the group - they don't want dad to be at work 4 hours away when the labor starts - their mom is arriving on a certain date and they want the baby to wait - their mom is arriving on a certain date and they want their baby to come early - etc, etc.

So when everything falls into place, it is such a joy to relive that birth over and over again.  The hazard of memory is that we can be imprinted with the good outcomes from a birth - or we can be imprinted with the bad issues on a birth.  I have always felt that a doula's role is partly to "reframe" the vision.  The fact is that in birth, as in life, there are ALWAYS goods and bads in the experience.  But what do we choose to focus on afterwards.  Isn't it better to keep your eyes on the highlights, rather than the low parts of an experience?  Especially since we live with birth memories for decades?

Recently I've worked with several first time families who achieved the birth goals they had envisioned.  They stayed home for most of the labor - they worked through the contractions well - they were able to go unmedicated which had been their particular goals.  It is so great to see a mom and dad after such a birth excitedly tell their friends/families how amazing the experience was.  Of course, I was at the birth also and there were definitely moments that were difficult but overall their vision is one of accomplishment and joy.  Isn't that how birth should be remembered?

I've worked with some families lately who chose to use an epidural.  They also excitedly tell their birth stories to their friends and families in glowing terms.  But once again - there were definitely low points during the process.   Those points, however, were momentary - whereas the good parts were foremost in their memory - and thus in their story.

What is the common denominator of such births - that go right for whatever their goals and choices were?  I think it is having a doula - who helps a family weigh their options - remind them of questions they might want to ask - guides them through the process so that they feel informed and part of the decisions.  Empowerment can come from different directions - and this can lead to a good experience.

So here's to the next birth that goes right - medicated or unmedicated - and at the end of the day, my hope is always that the family will tell their birth story with a smile on their face and happiness in their heart!