Let me tell you a story about Sam. You may know her. Maybe you are her. She is the Mum I meet for coffee. My hairdresser. My aunty. The brand new Mum I see on facebook with a drip in her hand and her baby in a plastic cot. She is who I meet everyday…
Sam is the amazing woman who in a group setting jokes her baby was too big to get out. “A monster of a baby!” she laughs. Everyone laughs and agrees with her. On the outside is humour. On the inside pain and disappointment. She believes her pelvis was too small and her baby too big for her to birth her baby.
But let’s unpack Sam’s story a little bit. SAM stands for Scared or Sadness About Myself. Typically there are three parts to Sam’s story:
Before she was pregnant:
Going into pregnancy Sam believes her body has failed her. Maybe she has been sexually abused. Maybe she experienced infertility. Maybe she tried for a long time to lose weight, but didn’t. Maybe she experienced terrible period pain. Maybe she had previous health issues. Maybe she had a miscarriage. In her mind, her body does not work for her.
Sam gets pregnant and this pregnancy processes: Her body of course is amazing and is carefully, masterly piecing together her infant day by day without Sam even having to think about it. But in Sam’s mind is a different story. In her conscious or subconscious mind is the abuse, her dislike for her body, her miscarriage. She carefully chooses her birth place and team based upon her history and negative self belief. She will choose the place where interventions are the quickest, as she has a gut feeling that birth will not go smoothly. After all, her body does not work for her. She will choose a birth team who will be skillful in intervening, so that they will do interventions to the best of their ability. She has many scans to help allay her fears of something going wrong. But these set out to do the very thing she was trying to alleviate. Innocently made comments such as “You’re baby is very big for your gestation” and “There may be something wrong with your baby but I can’t get a clear picture. Come back in a couple of weeks so we can have another look.” reinforce her belief that her body does not work for her. She comes away feeling anxious and afraid. The clincher is when she has an appointment with her care provider and hears “I think your pelvis is too small to birth your large baby.” She agrees to an induction before her due date to prevent her birthing the 15lb baby her mind has created.
During the birth:
It is far worse than her mind ever believed possible. Intervention after intervention occurs as she labours on the bed. Although not physically tied down, she is restrained by the electrical foetal monitoring, the IV drip, the medication, the pain. Bright lights, noise, direct questions and fear make it impossible for her to enter her primal brain, the part of Sam that knows instinctively how to give birth. She feels disempowered, out of control, a failure. Really she is a warrior, an Amazon woman. At every point through her pregnancy she has made the best decision she could with the information she had. At every point she has thought of and made decisions based on her or her infant’s survival. But she will never know how amazing she is. Finally her baby is born. She is told that medicine saved her baby. This reinforces her belief in her choice of birth place, her birth team, and her negative self belief. In her mind, her pelvis was too small to birth her baby.
At every point of Sam’s journey were options that would have changed her story. (See below for some top tips) Without a deviation in her life story, Sam may well go onto hold the belief that her body does not work for her for the rest of her life…
Get counseling to help you work through issues that will impact on your birth.
Develop self esteem. You are precious, smart, valuable and loved. Affirm yourself.
Do research about the impact of birth teams, birth places and environment on the birth process. Read books that empower you and increase your trust and faith in birth.
Choose a care provider that believes in the ability of a woman to birth her baby.
Choose a place of birth where you feel most safe and secure. That is where you will labour and birth the best.
Surround yourself with people who believe in your ability to birth your baby. Listen to positive birth stories. Challenge any negative self belief you hold.
Attend a BirthWorks course.
Grieve and heal previous childbirth related losses.
Create an environment conducive to natural birth.
Make informed decisions about medical intervention and obstetric drugs.
Use optimal foetal positioning to create lots of space in your pelvis for baby to be born.
Choose a kiwi companion to be present with you, or a mother, sister or close friend who believes in your ability to birth your baby.
To find out more about BirthWorks courses click here
If you would like to find out more about how a Kiwi Companion can help your birth click here