The Courage to Love Ourselves

“…celebrate ourselves for our courage to birth.

The real question becomes not, ‘Have you done your breathing exercises?’ but rather, ‘Can you love yourself no matter how you birth, where you birth, or what the outcome?’” –Claudia Panuthos

I have a badge of honor across my belly.  It reminds me of the pride and power I felt when my oldest son Brennen was born. I felt the same pride and power when I had my second son, Sean, four years later as a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). Really, I didn’t know anything about birth when I had my sons almost 30 years ago.  Sure, I had taken the classes, read “What to Expect”…, and totally ignored the sections about cesareans. Having been a doula for twenty years and now a Maternal Mental Health Counselor, my knowledge base has obviously increased through education and experience. Even with what I know now, I don’t regret either one of my birth experiences. Would I try do things differently now that I know more of the journey of labor and birth?  Of course I would.

Do I look back now and grieve for what did or didn’t happen?

I really don’t. I am so glad that women and their partners are empowering themselves with learning all they can about their birth journeys. However, I am concerned when I encounter people who are so invested in the way the baby comes out, that it becomes the focal point of the entire experience.

Professionally, I do believe that it would be ideal that every woman have an unmedicated, vaginal birth. It is optimal physically and emotionally for mommy and baby.  However, it can’t and doesn’t always happen … and it pains me when I see how a woman can take that into herself … almost as a definition of who she is and how she  “failed”.

As women, we need to support one another through word and deed when birth doesn’t go the way we planned.

It does not mean we are weak if the baby comes out the “up escalator” rather than the “down escalator”.

If we decide to use pain medication or have to be induced in order to have our babies, it doesn’t mean we are not strong.

It does not mean we are defective if we have to adopt or use a surrogate.

What it means is that we are mothers …

women who are on a journey to perpetuate themselves through the love, courage, nurturing, and care they show a child.  And in order to fully demonstrate that love, don’t we first have to love ourselves, no matter how that child came into this world? Don’t we have to support one another and ourselves? To protect against shame, guilt, embarrassment, and isolation that can come with a disappointing (even traumatic) birth experience? It is vital that we build each other up during this significant time in our lives…not tear down those whose births didn’t go “perfectly”. We need to encourage those women to heal, forgive themselves, and move proudly, safely, and securely into the next chapter of their child’s life.

Because when all is said and done, won’t that courage and self love have more of an impact on who that child becomes than how he or she got here?

If you need to process your birth experience give me a call at (217) 203-2008 or drop me an email. I want to help.