I was waiting for my coffee this morning at a local cafe. A young woman walked up with a little baby in her arms. I started talking with her and the conversation turned to the birth.
I asked her how it had been and her response was “Not great. You can’t ever prepare for it though.”
Um, what? You can’t prepare for giving birth?
Gobsmacked, I was kind of relieved that my latte arrived at the very same time as I would’ve been expected to respond encouragingly. I wished her all the best, walked away, but haven’t been able to shake the sick feeling all morning.
It’s the same feeling I got when I went to a friend’s birthday about a year ago. My husband and I were sat next to a lovely couple who were due with their first baby any day. I asked them what sort of birth experience they were hoping to achieve. The man looked to his wife as if he’d never heard that question before, and it was all up to her. The woman in turn looked at me blankly and then replied, “Oh, haven’t thought about that yet. I don’t want to know. I’m just kind of hoping that it’ll be ok.”
When it comes to birth, hope is not a strategy.
I was sad (but not overly surprised) when we ran into that same couple a few months ago with their baby. I asked how the birth was and she replied “Oh, don’t go there. It was horrendous and we had to have a caesarean in the end.”
I didn’t go into the detail with them (it’s none of my business) but I just wonder if they could have achieved a more positive outcome if they had educated themselves, done a bit of research, and attempted to understand the birthing process.
It frustrates me that women and men spend more time researching what sort of car to buy than they do in researching their birth options! I am by no means an expert in childbirth, but my husband and I were able to achieve the most beautiful birth because we put our hearts and souls into preparing.
We read books (well, I read them and occasionally would read a chapter or two to Rowan); we went to courses; we watched DVDs; we spoke to people; we asked questions; we talked about it; we practiced birth postures and breathing; we got a support team; we meditated; we did visualisations – long story short, we prepared for it.
I’m not for a second saying that preparation is going to guarantee you an amazing birth each time, but surely it could play a big part in preventing an experience that you’re disappointed with?
What do you think? If you’ve had a baby, what sorts of things did you do to prepare?