There is a Dark Side of birth that is rarely spoken about. It is spoken about in the dark corners of the post partum 4th trimester. And sometimes it creeps into the years following a woman's birth.
There's a purpose to why I am speaking about it here.
You never know if you're going to be the incredible woman who is deeply, emotionally affected by her unique birthing experience, only until after your baby is born.
If the dark side of birth isn't spoken about, we are doing a disservice to the women among us who continue to suffer in silence, and are doing a disservice to expecting mothers and future mothers who will not know that birth can sometimes have a negative outcome emotionally, and how they can prevent a lifetime of emotional trauma.
What women need is information.
Information = Empowerment
In order to be fully informed, a mother must face the facts that there is a negative truth to birth.
But this post is not intended to simply inform women of the negative truth. It's purpose serves to guide women on how to conquer the possible negative side to birth, before that day ever comes, (should it come).
As women who believe in birth, love birth, support women through pregnancy and birth, we should be informing of the negative truth, because knowledge is power.
If a woman is informed of negative birth facts, and is given the tools to make informed decisions, she has greater chances at preventing her own emotional trauma, despite birth not going as planned.
Me and my amazing thriving girls have lived through two extremely emotionally traumatic experiences (and the aftermath of the two cesareans brought with them the physical trauma I suffer from to this day).
As a woman who attends births all year round as a birth photographer, first and foremost, I support women in what their birth plan is. Whatever that plan may be. I believe that the priority is for a woman to feel safe, empowered and supported in how she needs.
If a woman needs a cesarean birth because that is what will make her feel safe, positive, or because that is what is medically necessary, she can depend on me supporting her endlessly without judgement.
However, there is no doubt that cesarean birth can have a very difficult physical and sometimes emotional toll on a woman. And this holds true to vaginal birth as well. For some mothers bodies, vaginal birth can have a very difficult physical and sometimes emotional toll on a woman.
For some the impact is not a difficult one, and for others it is. Every woman's body and mind reacts differently to birth. And for that reason, it is integral to a positive birth experience for a woman to have a birth team that will guide her through her emotional and physical needs, a team she can trust, a team that gives her the endless, nonjudgemental support that she needs.
I will never have the beautiful and peaceful meeting day with my girls that I had planned, our family is complete and I do not have the opportunity to make good decisions a third time. I did not choose birth teams for either of my births who supported me in the way I needed.
(with the exception of 2 amazing Boca Raton Regional nurses who made me feel safer when I was scared during my first child's birth)
I made decisions based on what provider accepted my insurance, and based on who was available. It was only after I had my babies that I realized those decisions were the wrong decisions for me personally.
The journey (both emotionally and physically) has been a difficult one for me. However, as I approach my youngest's 2nd birthday, almost two years after her birth, and five years of being a mother, I am finally starting to find the courage to turn my pain into a positive - I want to help inform and guide moms to choose the right birth team for them, making a birth plan they feel good about, listening to their intuition and instincts, all things I did not do.
HOW TO BULLETPROOF YOUR BIRTH
It's a funny choice of words. There's no real way to bulletproof your birth.
Because birth is the single most unpredictable thing in life.
You may choose the best birth team for you specifically, a wonderful birthing facility, but your body or your baby may have different plans.
But that does not mean to give up hope.
Give yourself the best chances to have a positive and empowering experience.
In the event your birth plan A and plan B and even plans C, D, E and F do not happen, and out of left field comes plan G that wasn't even on the table, in that sometimes scary, uncertain situation you want to surround yourself with the people who you feel you trust 100%. You want to look to your left and look to your right and see the people who you have felt safe with throughout your entire pregnancy. The people who empower you the way you need. Who give you the support that you need.
If you find yourself in plan G and you are scared, unsure, you may not feel very empowered anymore, you may feel alone, it is choosing that solid birth team that will help prevent those rising feelings from conquering you, from keeping you from having a positive experience.
A midwife or OBGYN who you trust flawlessly with your life, with your child's life, and who makes you feel confident, honored and respected, will make such a difference in a moment when things are out of your hands.
A doula who cares and supports you exactly in the moment you need it, who doesn't leave your side, who puts you first ahead of anything else going on in the world in that moment, that is the person you want holding your hand and giving you facts and affirmations the moment when you've lost hope, she finds it for you.
Interview, interview, interview.
Do you remember looking for your wedding dress? Did you buy the first one you tried on because it was THE ONE? If you did, lucky you :)
I tried on 20-30 dresses because I kept putting on these A line princess ball gowns and felt they did not compliment me at all. I felt insecure and questioned whether I thought I was beautiful to begin with. Then suddenly, in a new store, I saw a mermaid style wedding dress. It was on the rack in the "expensive section." I didn't even see the actual gown from top to bottom, I just saw the fabric, hand sewn silk with intricate detail that was evident to me someone had really invested a great deal of time into it. I looked at my dearest friend Monika (who had gone with me from store to store, encouraging me through the disappointing dress try-ons) and I said, I'm not even going to look at the price tag. (I was so past the point of what my wedding dress budget was; I was willing to pay way more than my budget if it meant finding the ONE that made me feel beautiful and confident). I darted for the dressing room. The dress wasn't even completely on, and not even zipped and I was crying, I was saying "this is the one!!!"
Perhaps this story is a little silly (it's a true story) in terms of comparing it to your birth team. But I use this example, because these tremendous moments that require pause and consideration in our life, require great planning and good decisions if on the inside, we really want to feel like we made the right decision that WE feel confident about.
So don't take lightly to choosing your birth team.
Your experiences with them on the day of your baby's birth will remain with you in your heart and mind every day for the rest of your life.