I got a LOT of good advice about childbirth before having my daughter — I read the books, I talked to my best mom friends, I watched videos, I took a parenting class with my husband, I had a birth plan, I read the articles. Heck, I even visualized the birth.
But, like anything, there’s nothing like experience to help you really GET it. And while I went a little hardcore into the physical preparation part of it all, there’s one piece of advice that I didn’t take to heart as much as I should have. In fact, I thought that no one had even told me, but turns out, after reading some of our past posts, Erin laid it out in no. 3 of this article — but I obviously didn’t take it in as much as I should have because it’s so, so, SO true:
“If childbirth taught me anything, it’s that I was not in charge. My body and my baby were.”
And now, if I had a virtual highlighter and some stickers, I’d go back and underline that, star it, and hang it up all over my house as a motto. Because it’s the truth. No matter how much you plan for, visualize, or prepare for it, childbirth — once it starts — isn’t something you have control over. It’s something (freakin’ incredible) that happens TO YOU.
Your only job is really to just surrender to it and let it happen.
Now, am I saying that you shouldn’t write a birth plan, take a childbirth class, read books, and create a birth playlist? Heck to the no! Doing all of that IS helpful and something that I found to not only bring me comfort before, but also helped me to allow that surrender to take place. It also — VERY importantly — helped my husband, doula, and the medical professionals in the room know what I wanted and helped to guide my care (especially when I was having contractions and couldn’t form a coherent thought, let alone talk).
But this idea that doing that would ensure a certain type of birth or that I’d have an active role in controlling what happened day-of? Yep, nope.
Like Erin said: “I was not in charge. My body and baby were.”
And although the control freak in me still needs this reminder (despite me fully living it), when I take a step back, that’s really quite an amazing and incredible thing, right? That, if all goes normally, your body can grow and birth a person, with you basically just going along for the ride? Much like breathing, it’s something your body and your baby just know how to do.
Now that is COOL.
What’s the one thing you wish you’d really understood about childbirth before going through it yourself? I was also really grateful for all of this advice — it’s spot-on. –Jenn