One of the toughest challenges of birth is how unpredictable it can be. We look to data and checks as indicators of how soon labor will start, how long it will last and how smoothly it will go. Am I dilated yet? Is the head down? Will I have my baby early? Will I have a long labor? How painful will labor be? Will I need a c-section? Will my baby be okay? These are all normal questions. Yet there are a few ways in which you can help lay the path your labor will take.
When I heard my first baby inhale for the first time, I cried. Perhaps it was the sheer exhaustion. (I had no idea what exhaustion was at that point.) Was it relief? The triumph of actually doing what my body had been preparing to do for 41 weeks. Or perhaps the visceral realization that with that first breath, I was finally and absolutely a mother?
The paradox of control in birth is that we must internally surrender to our bodies while externally exercising consent for what’s done to our bodies. On one hand, the physiological process requires us to relinquish control and allow the primal brain to take over in order to move labor forward. On the other hand, participating in a medical context means it’s critical to exercise control by being active, informed consumers.