Birth Matters. Read that again and really let those words roll around in your brain and sink in.
Those two words are most about what they don’t say. They don’t say there is one right way to birth. They don’t say only a healthy baby is important. They don’t say a birth plan is useless. They don’t say your doctor always knows best. They don’t say you have to give up authority over your body, and they don’t say there is no dignity in birth.
These past six months have flown by quicker than any other time I can remember in my life. I have been an advocate for women choosing their own path for their birth for years but in the past year I have really jumped in feet first and immersed myself in my passion… birth. Why? Because birth matters.
Six months ago I stood in my bedroom and roared out my 7th baby. I woke up to strong labor and knew I would be holding her soon. I woke my husband and called my doula to my side. I could not have asked for better support, support that believed I could choose instinctively how to labor and have my baby without being told what to do. Support that knew how I was treated during my labor would matter. I moved in the ways my body told me leaning over and then hanging onto my husband for support. My doula cheered me on and encouraged me. My head knew what to do but my heart couldn’t fully believe that I was going to have a completely autonomous birth. There were no interventions to throw the natural hormone process off for me or my baby. My water broke as my body started pushing on its own. I grunted and screamed as the intensity of the waves pulsed through my body from my back to back contractions. My sweet baby was pushed out into my husband’s waiting hands. I did it. The pictures are not professional and with time I know the details in my mind will fade but Audrina’s birth changed my life forever.
I entered my pregnancy with her still a bit broken and stamped with fears that I was sure I would always carry after we lost our fifth baby Sloan. I have walked away from more than one of the births of my children with internal scars from the trauma. I have been yelled at, ignored, and abused in labor at the least. Birthing Hollis, my sixth, gave me back my joy and confidence in humanity because of the kind and respectful treatment of the doctor I chose. He is a doctor who knows labor and birth works best when women are treated like adults, not children, and get to make their own birth choices. He is simply there to guide them.
But it was my unassisted birth that erased the fears that I had been praying so hard to leave behind. Her birth taught me full surrender to God no matter the outcome. Her birth showed me the power of my body. It taught me that I can walk away from a birth with my dignity and mental health in tact. That a safe birth can also be a birth where the mother gets her expectations met. That birth can be emotionally fulfilling. Birth can be restorative. What I want others to learn from her birth is that birth matters. A woman’s mental state after birth matters. Her vision for her birth matters. Her healing from the past matters. How women feel about the way they were treated in birth matters. Birth matters for mothers and birth matters for babies.
Birth leaves a lasting imprint that each mom and baby carries with them for life. That imprint has a ripple effect out to family and friends. Birth can be an experience that makes that ripple a beautiful, empowering force. Birth Matters!
-Kimberly Culver CBSS, Dulce Birthing Services