My primary goal as a midwife is to support women to birth their babies in whichever way it feels right for them. I am often known to say that I cannot control how your birth progresses, but I can control that you feel supported during the process. Sometimes being an advocate for birthing women can be challenging. There are times when I don’t agree with their detailed birth plans and unwillingness to accept my very experienced advice. Most of the time I end up being right with my suggestions and the birth ends up in the exact way I anticipated, usually with the mother learning to surrender to a greater force and let go of her detailed birth plan.
However, and I would say thankfully, I often find myself surprised in her adherence to her plan and the revelation that it works! This week I had 10 births and 8 progressed as I anticipated and 2 did not. One mother came in birthing her first child at full dilatation and informed me she would only push if she felt like she needed to. I thought to myself, ok we’ll see, but to my humility 3 hours laters with minimal pushing, she was crowning and 4 hours later birthed her baby without ever breaking a sweat. It was awesome and made me realize once again that we really don’t understand all the component parts of birth. There is the physical, clearly. The shape of the mother’s pelvis, the size of the baby, the position of the baby, the diameter of the baby’s head, etc. But there is the emotional and mental component of birth that propels labor or inhibits it. I have observed after 30 years of birthing babies that women rarely deliver their babies on high holy days or holidays. There is a strong emotional component which we cannot treat with an herb or a medication. Women do birth as they live.
The second labor surprise came from a woman also birthing her first baby. She arrived at 9 cm dilated and also did not feel she needed to push. She was moving with her body, rocking, squatting, lunging with each contraction. I thought, great, let her be, she will get to fully dilated and start spontaneously pushing. Wrong again. When she actually started pushing, she became so agitated, she completely kicked her sympathetic nervous system into action and we could not get her to focus or breathe. End result: She got an epidural at 10 cm as a last resort. It worked and after 1 more hour of pushing she delivered her baby.
I love observing women in their power demanding their caregivers respect their wishes. I love watching women succeed in their strength, and as always I am always humbled by their power.