When I think back to when I gave birth to my son, I do remember the surges of the contractions, the release of being in the water in the tub, and the pushing. So much pushing. ?
But I also remember the relief I felt when I first saw Mary Alice, one of my midwives, walk into my master bathroom while I was laboring in the tub. I remember my doula holding my hand in between pushes giving me encouragement, and my husband gently stroking my hair as I came down from the height of contractions.
After giving birth, I remember how my midwives made my bed with fresh linens and with me in it feeling comfortable as I nestled with my newborn son. I remember how a meal was brought to me in bed and how everything was cleaned up and looked as if nothing happened — not like I had just given birth to a baby. (I had a home birth, by the way.) And I remember how they were all with me by my side every step of the way.
I felt the love, the patience, and the respect that I needed. Those are the memories that I hold with me when I think about the day my son was born. It’s how I was cared for and how my birth team made me feel that stays with me.
For expecting women out there, be intentional with the people that you invite into your birthing room. That includes your doctor, your midwife, and your support people. I know that things look very different right now with hospitals only allowing one support person, but you can still receive good support. Take an online birthing class with your partner and practice how they can help you in labor. Speak up to your nurse and ask for what you need and what you want for your experience. Be your own advocate! And if you feel like you can’t speak up, hire a doula and receive virtual support during your pregnancy, birth, and immediate postpartum. Feeling supported, respected, and truly cared for is just as important as having a successful birth with a healthy mom and baby. ?