What is a “normal birth”? The definition of a normal birth varies. Using the broadest of definitions, “Normal Birth” is defined as the spontaneous initiation of the birth process, i.e. uterine contractions and cervical dilation and effacement occurring between 39 and 42 weeks of gestation. That is the broad, baseline definition. But this has varied over time. If you ask someone who delivered back in the 1920′s, they defined a “normal birth” as a home birth with a local midwife. If you ask someone in the mid to late 1950′s, a normal birth is a hospital birth, likely in a ward and with lots of medications and monitoring and a mama who may or may not have been conscious during the process. And today, the definition has become even more broad and varied. What is comes down to is this; “normal birth” is relative. What was normal in the 60′s when I was born is not at all how “normal birth” is defined today.
What about complications? How do they play and if they arise, do they negate a birth from being “normal”. This is the central question addressed in this video blog. Mamas, if complications arise during labor and delivery, that doesn’t mean that the birth isn’t “normal” and more pointedly, it doesn’t mean that you, mama are a failure.
Good Morning Mamas!
I have a good friend who is a doula and she is passionate about what she does. She recently attended a birth that lasted over 36 hours and although it resulted in a beautiful, healthy baby girl, the new mama was saying-out loud and in the presence of her daughter-that she was a failure because she had succumbed to an epidural and she was sorry.
My friend immediately reminded this new mama that there was no failure in this birth. This mama held in her arms a beautiful, full term, healthy baby girl. She had endured 36+ hours of labor and had indeed pushed her daughter into this world via a much desired vaginal birth. She was in no way a failure because after some 36 hours this mama reached the end of her physical rope and consented to and received an epidural. In viewing her use of an epidural as a failure, this mama discounted all of her intense and yet beautiful labor and delivery.
We humans are peculiar creatures. I believe that we are the only creatures in the animal kingdom who can get caught up in our one shortcoming that we discount the other 99 things that we do right! I don’t know this woman, but I do know that she had an uneventful pregnancy, was term at the onset of labor and just gave birth vaginally to a beautiful, healthy baby girl. She worked, toiled and labored for 36+ hours. She did it all. It was only at the very end that she needed a bit of assistance and she received it. For that one tiny (shortcoming) this woman saw herself as a failure.
Mamas, I know that many of you may read this and think,
“She’s complaining because she had an epidural?? Well, I can show her failure! I’m here on bed rest and at risk of losing my baby! The most basic and most natural of things for a woman to do, to become pregnant and to deliver a baby and my body has betrayed me. I am a failure as woman.”
These may not be your exact words, but am I close? How badly have you “shred” yourself because you are on bed rest? How many times have you believed and/or called yourself a failure because you ended up on bed rest? How many of you feel betrayed by your bodies? Feel broken or less than a woman?
I hear you. I see you. I feel you. I hurled many of the aforementioned statements at myself when I lost my 2 pregnancies and as I struggled to have my daughter. I felt completely broken and useless as a woman. Who or what was I if I couldn’t have a baby? That is what women do, make babies! While I was very conscious of the fact that many women lead very full lives without children, I also knew that this was often by choice, not by circumstance. I wanted to have children and it felt as though the universe was playing a painfully cruel joke on me.
When my friend told me about this birth, giving me graphic details of the labor and delivery as well as this post partum self depreciation and how she responded, it really drove home to me that there is never failure in pregnancy, labor and delivery, only perfection.
Every birth is perfect and that includes the “good and ethereal transformative” experiences as well as the bad and really ugly! I have no idea what will happen in the life of this new mama, her baby girl, her husband or her mother. But the fact that they are all there at that “serendipitous” moment makes it exceedingly clear to me that there are lessons to be learned.
Sometimes, when I allow myself, I play a little round of “What If?” What if I had gotten married younger? What if I had not miscarried? What if I hadn’t had uterine fibroids or luteal phase defect-the causes of my miscarriages. What if….?
Perhaps if I had gotten married younger I wouldn’t have had the problems that I had. Maybe. If I had not miscarried, I would have 2 entirely different children as each miscarriage preceded one of my children. While I am sure that I would love any child that I had, I really can’t imagine not having the kids that I have now-quirks and all! And if I hadn’t had all the problems that I have had, I never would have started Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond. I never would have been seeking answers for what was “wrong” with me, how to fix it and how to help other women avoid the pitfalls that I faced. So for all of my failures, I have had bountiful success and joy!
Mamas, it’s perfectly normal to be disappointed when things don’t turn out the way you expect. But just because the outcome is unexpected, doesn’t mean that you are a failure. Every pregnancy, labor and delivery occurs in its perfect time, place and sequence. What you may be regarding as failure may in fact become your greatest triumph! In pregnancy as in nature, there is no failure, only perfection.
Please share your comments in the section below of how you can see the perfection in your situation. Even if you can’t imagine the perfection now, how are you looking forward to it?
I attended a women’s circle last night and we were doing an exercise on asking for what we want. It was really interesting to see a group of 13 women working through the complexities of asking for not only what we need but also for what we want. Requests came in a myriad of forms;
“Would you mind doing X?”
“I’d appreciate it if you could stop doing Y”.
“Would you like to Z?”
All of these questions were passive and indirect and have the potential to confuse the person being asked, especially if that person is your spouse! As we continued with the exercise, we re-framed the questions so that they came from an active voice and were decisive.
“I need X, Will you please do it?”
“Please stop doing Y”.
“I want to do Z, would you like to join me?”
The above formats are active and they clearly convey what you want or need. There is no ambiguity and the person receiving the request can more easily respond “yes” or “no” because they know exactly what is being asked.
So what does this have to do with Mamas on Bedrest?
One of the most common questions I receive is, “How do I get help while I am on bed rest? “ The other side of this is, “People ask what I need and I don’t know what to say. I don’t want to impose.”
There are 2 main issues here and they are easily solved. First, if you need help, ask. So often people want to help, but they don’t want to impose or invade your personal space (pry) If you need help it is up to you to actively request it. Let the people in your life know that you are down and need help and support.
Secondly, you need to be specific. If you need help with meals, ask for help with meals. State specifically what you need, how many days per week, for how many people and if there are any limitations on what you and your family eat. This way, people know specifically what you need and can assess if they can or cannot meet that need.
Clear communication is key when enlisting the help of friends, family members or even paid assistance while on bed rest. The following tips make “The Art of Asking” clear, simple and effective:
- Sit down and make a list of all the things that need to be done for your home and family. Be specific and include times, dates, locations and who/what is involved in the tasks. Clearly state how you want the tasks done.
- Realistically assess with your partner what he/she is able to do
- See what tasks your children can assume (if you have other children and they are old enough to assist.)
- Then put on a calendar what needs to be done and when.
I suggest that you take advantage of the Care Calendars. These are web based calendars that you can fill out and post online. Then simply give your friends and family members the link and login and they can take a look at your needs and then sign up to fulfill them. This is really great in that you don’t have to feel awkward asking, and People don’t have to call you and ask what you need. This also eliminates ill feelings-You feeling upset if they can’t do something you asked, or them feeling awkward if they can’t fulfill a need. If they can’t do it, they simply don’t sign up for it!
Asking for help can be an anxiety ridden process. You hate to impose, because it feels like too much. You’ve already asked. People have already helped. But if you still need help, you need help. Remember, if friends and family are asking to help, let them. They wouldn’t ask if they didn’t mean it! But do value their time an energy by being clear about what your needs are and clearly state what you want people to do, how, when, what day and time and if possible how much time it may take. You can’t always get what you want, but you’ll never get what you want if you don’t ask.
If you have had success getting assistance while on bed rest, share how you did it below. If you have a question regarding getting help while on bed rest, send your questions to email@example.com.
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