If television is anything to go by, birth is something to be feared.
If the friends (who don’t have children) I spoke to before my daughter was born are to be believed, birth is a freakshow that hurts a great deal.
And if the women in my prenatal class are to be believed, birth is something to be endured. A means to an end.
Maybe I’m lucky. I never thought any of that.
I grew up with a mum who spoke positively about birth. When Cheryl on Neighbours was screaming and writhing during childbirth, my mum rolled her eyes and muttered something about overacting, before explaining that birth really wasn’t that bad.
So I grew up with the belief that birth was a normal part of life, not something to be feared.
When I was pregnant with my first child, I did start to worry about the birth. What would it feel like? Would I be able to cope during contractions? What if something went wrong?
To calm my nerves, I read some books about childbirth. I read Grantly Dick-Read’s Childbirth Without Fear. I also took prenatal yoga classes, and worked on my breathing techniques. I spoke to friends who’d enjoyed positive birth experiences, and I spent lots of time talking to my husband, who has never worried about anything in his life.
When it was time to give birth, I was ready. I felt completely clued up, and in control. I breathed deeply, and remembered to stay calm. I trusted my midwife, and felt completely supported by my husband. And I enjoyed a straightforward homebirth.
That was four and a half years ago and the memories are fading fast. Luckily, I get to do it all over again in a few weeks’ time, and I can’t wait.
Here are the reasons why I’m looking forward to giving birth again:
#1: I Want To Feel Invincible Again
I recently tiled a bathroom all by myself. While I was pregnant. I am not a DIY expert, so I was pretty proud of myself for achieving that feat.
I can often be found standing in the bathroom, smiling at the tiling, and simply admiring my own handiwork. Tiling a bathroom by myself made me feel pretty good, but it was nothing compared with that postpartum high.
I can remember feeling invincible after the birth of my daughter. I believed I could do anything. I was the strongest, most empowered woman in the world (and therefore ‘person’ because men can’t even give birth. Lame.)
For weeks after, my husband and I would spend hours retelling the birth story (sometimes to friends, often just to one another) and remembering all the details. I can’t wait to do that again. I can’t wait to feel that empowerment, that strength and that amazement at what my body can do.
#2: I Want To Beat My Personal Best
This is bizarre, I know, but I want to see if I can outdo myself with this birth.
Not that life is a competition but, you know, if it is, I want to win. My last birth took 6 hours and 14 minutes. Can I beat that record? And I used gas and air last time. Can I get through this birth without it?
It’s probably very weird to want to beat your own birth record, but that’s what I want to do. I want to feel even calmer, and more in control. I want to push less, and trust my body more (I think I was over enthusiastic with my pushes last time). I want to feel less shocked when they finally plonk that gorgeous newborn on my chest.
#3: I Want My Daughter To Be There
I wasn’t there when my mum gave birth to my sister. I was asleep on an airbed next door. My sister was born on the living room floor, in an unplanned home birth that left my mum feeling that home births were much nicer than hospital births. I arrived home the next morning to find my mum snuggled up in bed with my brand new little sister.
I think this is partly why I grew up believing birth was a normal part of life. When I saw my mum after the birth, there were no hospitals, IVs, or medical staff running around. It was just my mum, my sister, my dad, and me – all snuggled up at home.
And that’s what I want for my daughter too.
She is four and a half years old, and ecstatic about becoming a big sister. I haven’t told her yet that being a big sister means sharing your toys, having no privacy, and having someone ruin all your games. She is really fascinated by birth, and we’ve spent months reading books about it, so she’ll know what to expect.
It’s hard to predict how the birth will go, but I’m hoping my daughter gets to share the experience with us. I can’t imagine anything more special and inclusive than being present when your new sibling is born.
She is an incredibly caring little girl, and I know she will be sweet and supportive during labour. She’s already promised to get me as many ice pops as I want out of the freezer, and give me cuddles if I need them.
#4: I Want To Remember What Birth Is Like
About two weeks after my daughter was born, I sat down and wrote out my birth story. I didn’t want to forget anything, but I was already aware that the details were starting to fade.
I spent a lot of the labour in a kind of trance, so my husband had to provide the detail. It occurred to me recently that I can’t really remember what birth is like. I can remember feeling my heartbeat slow during contractions, when I concentrated on my breathing. I can remember the relief provided by a cold flannel on my neck, as I leaned against the side of the birthing pool. And I can remember that feeling of complete shock when my daughter was placed in my arms.
But I can’t really remember what the contractions felt like, or the sensation as my daughter worked her way down the birth canal. I’m hoping that this time I’ll be able to soak up all these details so I can remember them forever.
#5: I Want To Try Doing Things Differently
Becoming a parent for the second time gives me a second chance to do things right. This is true of the birth too. Now that I know what to expect, I’m hoping I can be a little more prepared.
I think having my daughter there will alter the atmosphere and I hope it will allow me to stay calm throughout. Last time, I remember feeling a little panicked towards the end, when the second midwife arrived and started chatting. It seemed to pierce the tranquility in the room.
This time, I’ll be using music to try to prevent that happening again. It took me a long time to find the energy to get upstairs after the midwives left, and I remember feeling pretty miserable – stuck downstairs and longing to be in bed with my new baby. This time, I’m going to ask the midwives to help me upstairs before they leave, in case I don’t have the energy to do it myself.
My first birth was an amazing experience, and I’m hoping these little changes can make the second one even better.
Tomorrow, I will be 37 weeks pregnant, which means, I hope, I won’t have too long to wait until I give birth. I’m so excited to experience birth again, and to meet this baby. And while that might sound strange to some, I know a lot of other women feel just as positively about birth.
Recommended Reading: Siblings At Birth – Should Children Be Present During Childbirth?