Post Partum Care
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?
Hello Mamas, Here’s a question from Mama on Bedrest Josh asking,
“Doesn’t placental encapsulation help with Post Partum Depression symptoms?”
After doing a bit of checking, I found that there is not medical evidence that Placental Encapsulation has any medical benefit. That said, ingestion of the placenta in any form has been practiced for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine and in other tribal customs. Because it is high in hormones, it is porported that ingesting the placenta,
- Helps balance a woman’s hormones post partum
- Helps mitigate “the baby blues” a syndrome reportedly faced by up to 80% of women in the immediate post partum
- Helps ward off post partum depression (this has not been proven)
- Enhances milk production
- May help balance hormones during perimenopause
The additional benefit touted is that because the placenta is actually an organ the woman herself produces, there is no toxicity or risk of adverse reaction. It’s is seen as similar to donating blood to oneself prior to surgery. And because the placent comes from the woman herself, it provides the ultimate “bio-identical hormones”.
While I don’t endorse or refute the practice, I recommend that women interested in placental encapsulation thoroughly research the process and find a trained, certified placental encapsulation specialist; someone trained in the proper preparation according to Traditional Chinese Medicine practices and OSHA trained so that the organ is properly handled and prepared. There are resources listed below.
If you have done placental encapsulation, know something about placental encapsulation or have an opinion, please share your comments in the comments section below. Thanks!!
If you have a question, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll answer it on an upcoming Wednesday Vlog.
Resources for further study: