The messy end of birth

I recently read a statement that referred to midwifery as “the messy end of birth”.

This statement sat heavily with me for a while. I have to respond. We, as a culture, really do need to change our ideas about birthing!

I won’t deny it – birthing can be messy, painful, frightening, uncomfortable, risky, life-threatening. It can also be safe, empowering, life-changing, blissful, incredible …doesn’t it depend on your experience?

And doesn’t your experience of birth depend on what you KNOW about birth?

Until birthing is within the scope of events that are likely to have an effect upon our lives, we have little reason to look into it. All we get are the cultural wives tales and the urban myths – none of them very positive. Our own mothers were not likely to have had wonderful experiences birthing, due to the knowledge and services available at the time (my mum was X-RAYED when pregnant!!).

When we women began our menstruation I’ll bet that most of us (or our mums when they began) were not given much instruction or encouraged to explore our bodies beyond the practical application hygiene maintenance and what we learned in biology. We have not been encouraged to learn about our bodies. To many women in our society menstruation is regarded as messy and inconvenient –  and therefore so must be birth – only worse!

What you KNOW about birth comes from knowing your body inside and out. Talking and learning about your body, how it feels and what it is capable of doing. Knowledge comes from reading as much as you can on all aspects of the topic, from talking to people who can share their experiences in a constructive (not negative) way, from experienced professionals such as midwives and doctors and nurses who have an intimate and detailed knowledge of women’s bodies, and who have had experience helping women perform miracles with their bodies because they know every woman can.

But MORE than that your experience of birth will be affected by your TRUST. You have to learn how to trust your own strength and your intention and your body and your baby. Trust natural processes to unfold as they will. Trust in those carers you have chosen to help you.

Trust in yourself means learning how to ignore advice and suggestions that are unhelpful, biased, based in ignorance and lack of experience. (Even our own “trusted” doctors, obstetricians and midwives may fall into this category!!)

When all these conditions are in place, birth is not regarded as a messy business. It doesn’t even have to be painful, or frightening – and if it is then you will know enough about birth to use this, to accept support from the people you trust and who love you.

I think I entered my first birth still with the expectation that it would be messy, that it would hurt, that perhaps I couldn’t do it on my own, that my midwife would have to coach me … and this is exactly what happened … and I ended up with a cesarean.

My second birth saw me go through a profound journey of acceptance and trust. I learned a lot about what I can do, and how convictions in my own decisions affect the way things happen for me. I trusted my carers. I trusted my body. I birthed in a wild (and messy!) three hours alone with my husband at home. My midwife heard my last scream and walked through our front door moments later to be greeted by my triumphant smile. I did it. A bloody miracle. The most empowering experience of my life.

My midwife might be at the messy end of birth but she witnesses miracles every time a baby arrives in the world. The miracle of life and trust. The miracle of our bodies. Of love. The miracle that this little person can and does arrive safely.

My midwife trusts women’s bodies and trusts the process of birth.

So do I.

July can’t come fast enough. I’m a birthing junkie now. Bring it on!!

One thought on “The messy end of birth

  1. I’m with you Jen. Midwifery is definitely not what I would call the messy end. The divine and sacred and blessed end is more like it. What a privilege it is to be a midwife and to be able to witness the most magical and intimate moments in families’ lives.

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