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If you spend anytime on social media or the internet reading birth stories, you no doubt have read stories from parents who carry a heavy regret for how their birth was handled. They talk about feeling pressured into interventions they didn't want and probably didn't need, feeling unheard, not having their questions answered, how their doctor who seemed supportive of their birth plan before the birth didn't follow through, or a different doctor was on call who had different opinions, or the nursing staff didn't support their birth plan, even though the doctor checked it off.
While all of these are reasons for feeling the loss of the birth they wanted, the biggest factor for these families comes from not being prepared in the right way, from not finding their voice.
Without your voice, you have only facts and information, which sounds like something stable and true to rely on, but it's actually a scary thing to rely on because birth is not actually fact based, otherwise we would know exactly what to expect and birth would always look the same.
No wonder women and their birth partners so easily feel fearful, and chances are, they don't even really know why.
Fear comes from not understanding the truth of birth - why the process happens the way it happens, why there's pain, why it can go out of our control, and why we treat childbirth the way we do.
When you really understand birth at a fundamental level the purpose for the process of childbirth exactly how it is, the beauty of the design of birth and all the reasons it happens the way it does, the fear somehow melts away and the process of birth begins to make sense in every cell of your body.
You might know all the birth facts - cervical dilations, contraction patterns, specific breathing techniques, what questions to ask your care provider to see if they are a good fit for you.
But, what happens when your contraction pattern is unclear, you have no idea what your cervical dilation rate is? What happens when you are so deep in labor, you don't remember your breathing strategies?
Or worse, what happens when your care provider breaks their promise while you're in labor? Or when they're not even the one on call when you go into labor and you end up with a birth team who does not support your requests.
Facts about labor and comfort techniques are useful and information can help you feel more confident, but that won't help you if something out of the ordinary arises before or during your birth. This is where you need to have your voice, your identify, and your ability to advocate for yourself.
It is your voice, your inner guidance, not facts and information, that you can rely on to help you through the process so you feel positive about your birth experience.
Women are struggling to have a voice in birth, because women haven't found their voice.
You have an identity that you use throughout your life, that you show to the world. We each have one and this is how you interact with your environment on a day-to-day basis.
Though you are probably comfortable with your dominant voice, you have access to more than just the one voice you use on a regular basis, you have a whole kit of voices that you can use to support your birth. In the Natural Birth Compass program, we call them directions - East, South, West & North.
We all have one dominant direction that guides our life, our actions and our interactions, but accessing the other three directions and learning how and when to use them will give you access to the whole, authentic version of you, your whole range of voice.
For example, if you are a strong South, you are a great communicator, you bring community together, you bring joy and smiles to a room. Where this can work against you in birth is that you will tend to prioritize the needs of the group over your needs, but during labor and birth, your needs are the only ones of importance. When you hand over your needs this way, your birth team can easily take advantage of your generosity to do what they want you to do instead of recognizing and supporting what you need from them as your support team.
To prevent this scenario, you need to access and develop your inner North voice, this is the woman who knows herself and her needs and is able to prioritize herself and her baby first if that is what is best for the situation.
Meanwhile, women with a dominant North struggle with asking for and accepting help, they try to do it all on their own. Dominant North women can benefit from accessing the easy and natural communication of the South who thrives on community support and understands the value of a team.
You have all four of these women in you, you have access to your East, South, West & North. In order to access them all, you first have to identify your dominant direction and see how this presents in your life. Then you have to experience how the other three directions appear in your everyday life, in your environment, and in other people around you, and as you start to see it everyday, you can start to assume each direction as needed to get more out of your life and your birth.
Helping your birth partner to understand the four directions will also help you tremendously during birth as well. How you interact with your partner will reveal the dominant directions each of you resonant with and being prepared for the ways your directions will provide strength and the ways it may present challenges for you in your birth is what will help you avoid regret in birth.
If you know ahead of time where you will face challenges and you are prepared with the support of your other directions, you will have everything you need to have a better birth experience because you have the full capacity of your voice in your hand and your heart.
You can't possibly be prepared for every situation that could arise in birth. You cannot be expected to learn about every intervention, every approach your birth team could take, or know what might happen before or during your labor. Your doctor may break their promises, or they may not even be the one present at your birth, but none of that matters if you have the support you need from your voice, and even better if your birth partner is prepared with their full voice as well.
Read more about each of the directions in our previous post and if you would like to work with us on developing your voice and your Natural Birth Compass so you are prepared for your birth, check out our membership program and childbirth course, where we help you access your full voice for birth and beyond with a full community of support and personalized coaching and classes.
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