Monday, March 22, 2010

Trusting mothers

Not for the first time I have a client who is exploring the possibility of a cesarean. Her inner wisdom, her heart, her intuition lead her to explore the possibility of a type of birth she's never dreamed she'd have. When I get her emails I am so conflicted emotionally, but my compass is clear and always rests on trusting the mother.

When I was pregnant with E, I wanted my shot at a homebirth. It was my third and probably last birth, my first two births were induced with epidurals and by this time I'd been a doula for several years and had shed a lot of the fear around birthing at home. Unfortunaltely I was high risk for several reasons, so it was not a guarantee that it was a possibility. I talked with my OB/GYN. I spoke with the perinatologist. I met with the midwife I knew I'd choose if I could go down this road. Everyone single person said, "I don't know yet, let's wait until you're further r

Not hearing "No." meant I could engage the idea in my heart without the distraction of being defensive or needing to protect what I wanted. It meant that my heart could quiet and I could let the answer rise within myself. It was a couple of weeks later that I couldn't deny the quiet but steady voice inside of me that said, "This baby must be born in the hospital." I couldn't say it out loud, it was too painful. I had to give up my hopes and wishes and last dream for a homebirth if I admitted it. I continued to talk about my homebirth but at some point it became so intense that I looked to my husband and said, "This baby needs to be born in the hospital." I burst into tears and he held my hand and we just sat with it. It didn't need explaining, we both just knew, I think.

When I have a client tell me that despite what she thought she would want, she has to change course, I have this moment of, "Oh no, she's succumbing to pressure, she's reading the wrong things, she hasn't seen this study, she's..." It's fast but powerful, the urge to 'correct' her and guide her to the outcome that is least interventive.

Quickly I see how important it is that she is met where she is at - it means trusting her inner voice the same way I had to trust my own. If I had had a doula or a provider try to talk me out of what I knew I had to do to safely birth my baby, it would have broken my trust in her. I would have felt she wasn't listening to ME, she was listening to herself. I would then be defensive about what I'd chosen and less likely to open up about it.

When I am working with a client one of the many questions I ask is, "What does your heart tell you- aside from the noise of everyone else telling you what they think, aside from any fears you're having, what does your heart tell you?" I see women get quiet and go within and come back with very clear information, even if that information is "I don't know yet, I need more information." Another great question that has been really helpful is, "What do you need to know in order to make this decision?"

Sometimes as a professional it's easy to get stuck in what I think is the best outcome. I've learned to be pretty good about letting go of what I want for every client beyond to be met with compassion, treated with respect, and provided information to make decisions, with the support to execute them. However she gives birth, it's her journey.

We learn something profound about ourselves when we give birth - what right does anyone have to step in and tell a woman to go against her inner wisdom when her heart tells her that intervention or surgery is in order? What right do we have to tell her that her birth-journey is not right because it doesn't hold to what we want for her, (even with our best intentions?)

Now when I feel an attachment to an outcome I know that even though I leave my birth-baggage at the door, something snuck in with me and needs to be set aside so that I can truly be with THIS woman at HER birth.


motherwitdoula said...

Beautifully said. I felt this way with my second baby. I had had a wonderful homebirth with my first, but my second just felt...different. To the shock of everyone who knew me, I decided to book a space in a midwife birthing centre. The baby came early, I needed to be transported to the hospital, and I bled a LOT. The next 2 babies I had comfortably at home.
I SO trust that intuition is awake and alive in pregnant/birthing women, if only we hold them in a non-judgmental space within which they can go inside and glean their own answers.