I've said it before + I'll say it again:
Mindset is THE most important aspect of achieving a natural birth.
But in my first birth I had the wrong mindset in one particular area of my birth plan. I want to tell you about it so the same thing doesn't happen to you. If you didn’t believe in the universe before, you will by the bottom of this post.
In the Love Your Labour program, I teach you [in great detail] HOW to train your mind for labour. Birth is a major life event, and I want you to be READY for it. Your ideal birth outcome depends on your preparation.
You wouldn’t have a wedding without doing any preparation, would you? Or run the Toronto Marathon without training for it? Well labour is unique in that it requires physical, logistical AND MENTAL training.
The mental training is key. But my mindset going into Rowan’s birth was all wrong:
I was cocky, not confident.
I did everything I could to prepare:
I called to claim my spot with the local midwives as soon as I peed on a stick.
I asked my best friend (who is also an ND + labour doula) to attend my birth for support.
I was a Naturopathic Doctor, a lifelong birth junkie AND a labour doula myself, so felt pretty comfortable with the idea of birth - very little fear happening.
I completed all of my Naturopathic labour preparation techniques to prime my body for easy labour.
I was planning a natural home birth with zero intervention.
AND I took my family history into consideration...
I come from a long line of strong, wonderful women who all happened to be four-hour POWER BIRTHERS. My mom, my aunts, my grandmothers, my cousins - all four-hour power birthers. Growing up, birth was always described by my female role models as an intense, very quick, unmedicated event. So I assumed I would follow suit!
So all things considered, my amazing birth was like basically in the bag. Right?
Wrong. Twelve hours into my labour (there goes the four-hour theory…) my water broke and there was meconium. My midwife came to check on me and although I was 4cm dilated (yay!), it was not Rowan’s head presenting at the cervix (no!). My midwife called the ambulance to bring me to the hospital.
I watched as the plug was pulled on my birth and all of my big plans and cocky assumptions went swirling down the drain.
Hope = crushed. There. Were. Tears.
I hadn’t prepared for a transfer to the hospital. I hadn’t even considered my birth being anything but perfect. Our midwives said many times that if anything went awry we would immediately transfer to the hospital. But I was all:
...I didn’t even have a hospital bag packed. I laboured in a hospital gown and my winter boots, pictured above. I didn’t have a tooth brush or any clothes. Not even a diaper or an outfit for the baby.
Unprepared is not confident, unprepared is cocky.
Humbled by a bum.
When we arrived at the hospital, we had an ultrasound and learned that Ro was bum-down, or what is called Frank Breech. (Fun fact, this is why his monkey I made him is named Frankie!)
The OB we were transferred to was an awesome old bearded hippy dude. He was wearing cowboy boots over his scrubs. (I am now seeing a trend of funny footwear…) And, lucky for us, he had successfully delivered a few Frank breech babies vaginally, and offered to let us try.
So I gathered up all my strength and went back up to bat for my vaginal birth. But a chubby lil bum doesn’t dilate the cervix like a head does, and after 12 more hours I was not dilating and I was exhausted. The OB recommended a c-section and we could not justify continuing.
Hope crushed again.
We had planned a natural home birth, but ended up getting an ambulance to hospital and wrapped up the whole experience with a c-section.
No birth I have ever attended has gone as exactly 180° OPPOSITE to the birth plan as my own.
Oof. Talk about humbling.
Being unsuccessful with my own vaginal birth brought me down a notch and put me in my place. The sting was real, and I felt ashamed and embarrassed.
The final word.
The thing I learned is that birth is not entirely up to us. We can do a LOT to prepare, but we do not have ultimate control - then who does? Mother nature? The universe? I'm not sure.
But we DO get to have the final word on the matter. Maybe that’s the huge lesson in all of this. It’s not what happens, but it’s how you respond and what lessons you can take away from it.
My c-section experience literally sat my butt down and said “I AM HERE TO TEACH YOU. Listen and learn. You are not an expert yet. Hone your skill.”
And this is where the mystical magic of the universe comes into play: look at how much I have grown and learned since then. After my c-section, I focused my energy into learning everything I could about how to remove obstacles to vaginal birth. I applied that to my prenatal Naturopathic and Doula patients, and eventually fine-tuned a system of preparing for labour. After seeing the success they experienced I decided to create the Love Your Labour program. And now, my entire business is dedicated to helping women give birth naturally.
My c-section pointed me in the direction of my dreams.
My cesarean section changed my life by altering the direction of my profession + putting the focus on my passion - and it has led me here, right now, to you.
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Prepare for any situation, not just the ones you want. Be grateful for any outcome, not just the ones you like.
How many times have you heard stories like “if I hadn’t broken up with that boyfriend and then been at THAT party on THAT day and run into THAT guy who worked in the building next door to me, we wouldn't have grabbed lunch and I wouldn’t have fallen in love with him, and he wouldn't have now been my husband and baby daddy”.
From my experience, the things that happen in our life - even if they're painful at the time - just fit together too perfectly in hindsight to have been random and purposeless.
In labour + birth [and most other areas of life] things that happen become the jig-saw pieces of your life puzzle. Once you piece these “random events” together, they make up your very own unique puzzle. They are the road you have travelled. They are what makes you YOU.
Although I didn’t WANT a c-section, I got one. And now I would even go so far as to say I’m HAPPY I had one. It has given me a wider breadth of knowledge and experience to draw from in the work that I love.
Always keep a place in your heart for a little serendipity and accept that whatever happens to you (or for you?) is there to guide you in some way.
So listen up.