In the previous post, I talked about creating a quiet nine months by embracing positive introvert qualities. Today I am continuing along the theme whilst focusing on labour and birth.
In my experience of birthing four children, I found my introverted nature offered me a gentle self-confidence and an ability to dig deep into my soul when it really mattered. These are qualities that I still use in my daily life twenty-five years later. The very nature of my introversion helped me to prioritise my time and I found reading books on the anatomy and physiology of birth, mindful breathing exercises along with the spirituality of becoming a parent helped me to make sense of the changes that were unfolding inside my body and mind. Perhaps the most important lesson was to remove the pressure on my partner to behave in a way that he found very challenging.
Let me explain that last sentence. Since lockdown, and the news that women may have to birth without their partners present, I feel myself getting frustrated with the assumption that women are unable to have a positive experience without a partner. As a doula, I know that it is beneficial to have a birth partner who is fully engaged and able to support physically and emotionally in labour. The research will back this up. My frustration lies with never talking about the partners who can’t be ‘that person’. For some, both male and female, birth can be extremely stressful and they are simply not able to draw upon the inner qualities that are required. My husband was that person.
I am conscious that there is so much pressure on partners to step up and be the strong, confident one during birth. They often bring their own baggage to the experience – stories they’ve heard from friends, films they have watched, the language that is used in birth and it can be very difficult for some partners to cope. My husband is someone for whom medical procedures cause a great deal of stress and I knew after my firstborn that when I have subsequent babies, I would be birthing alone.
He was physically present but, because we were at home, he was able to sit quietly on the sofa while I laboured in the living room using breathing techniques and other self-soothing measures. This may appear odd to some but I accepted the situation fully, and I put myself in the best possible position for bringing our children into the world.
How can I do this?
With positive birth planning and evidence-based education, I believe that the birthing person can acquire a deep inner confidence, fully appreciating that birthing requires a quiet, calm frame of mind with rhythmic breathing and ritual. Perfect for someone who has spent time reading positive books and educating themselves about the processes and the birthing hormones and how the human body is incredible.
Just like animals take themselves off to a quiet space away from the noise and hustle and bustle of their surroundings, a birthing person can do the same. They feel safe and allow their hormones to flow freely. These hormones contain natural pain relievers and, if encouraged to flow, can help to create a rhythm allowing the birthing person to cope with the strong sensations and the physical demands of labour.
Birth is a Sensual Experience
Remembering to anchor yourself in the senses that perhaps you wrote about in your Birth Story. A soft blanket, a pillow that smells of home, aromatherapy oils placed on a tissue on the radiator, gentle music in the background, a dimly lit room with minimal talking. These are all ‘Introvert Go-To’s’ in a birthing toolbox!
If your partner is comfortable within the birthing room, they could be given the task of protecting your birth space. This can be a vital role for them to play. Making sure that the talking is kept to a minimum in the room and absolutely no chit-chat! The lights are low and you are focused and strong. Just by being in the room, they can play a role, without adding pressure on them to perform outside of their comfort zone.
The Golden Hour, where baby and parent spend time skin-to-skin enjoying the smells of birth and learning how each other feel against the bare body. Allowing the time to flow freely without interruption, mindfully, recognising the importance of this precious time. Introducing your baby to your microbiome and encouraging their microbiome to flourish by not wiping them clean before cuddling. This is a great time to allow baby to snuggle into your breast and the smells and sounds that make up their new family. Again, dimmed lights, quiet atmosphere with minimal talking. An introvert’s dream.
So, my take-home message to you today is this. If for whatever reason you can’t have your partner by your side, don’t panic. You can do this! Prepare yourself with the best antenatal education you can find, read your books, hire a doula to coach you to a confident mindset, and then trust your body.
If you have a positive and willing partner, then plan what they can do to protect the space you are birthing in. Talk to them, explain what you’d like. Explain what you don’t want too! Most importantly, remember to remain flexible. Hiring a doula in order to help your partner too. Having someone by their side supporting them so that they can support you is a vital role.
If you’d like to talk about how St. Albans Doulas can help you to find a confident and happy place in your mind, before, during, and after your birth please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beautifully illustrated by local artist Olivia Braylin of Bear Paw Designs. You can find Olivia on Instagram @Olivia.Braylin.