When I found out I was pregnant, one of the first things I knew in my heart was that I wanted to try to have the baby naturally, without any medical interventions and drugs if possible. I also chose to have my prenatal visits and my birth through a birth center vs. a doctor’s office and a hospital. For a myriad of reasons, I just knew and still know that these are the right choices for me and align most with my beliefs. These were just a few of the many choices I have had to make and will continue to make surrounding this pregnancy and the health and care of my precious baby boy.
This post is specifically about my decision to choose the Birthing From Within philosophy of birth when it came to preparations and classes. If you are pregnant or have been pregnant, you may know that at some point you are approached with all of the different class options available to you to help prepare you as much as possible for birth. You may hear of The Bradley Method, Birthing From Within, Lamaze, Hypobirthing… just to name a few of the theories, methods, or philosophies. I did as much research as I could and finally felt right about moving forward with Birthing From Within classes. This being my first child and not having any experience giving birth, I just had to go with my gut based on what I read about all of the options and what I felt I connected with the most.
Two weekends ago, my husband and I took a two day version of the Birthing From Within class that was recommended by our birth center. You can break the class down into 4 days, 1 day or 2 days and we chose the 2 days, for 4 hours on a Saturday and Sunday morning.
The following is a little more about the Birthing From Within philosophy and mission from their website.
Birthing From Within exists to inspire and teach expectant and new parents, and those who work with them, to:
- Prepare for birth as a Rite of Passage.
- Understand the power and life-long impact that “birthing from within” offers all participants in birth.
- Co-create holistic prenatal care that is informative, transformative, and builds a foundation for birthing in awareness in our birth culture, whatever the birth location or outcome or events of the birth.
- Prevent or minimize emotionally difficult births (for parents and professionals) through compassionate, honest preparation.
- Honor and use the power of Birth Story telling and listening.
Our Philosophical Assumptions and Guiding Principles
- Childbirth is a profound rite of passage, not a medical event (even when medical care is part of the birth).
- The essence of childbirth preparation is self-discovery, not assimilating obstetric information. The teacher (mentor) is “midwife” to the parents’ discovery process, not the expert from whom wisdom flows.
- Childbirth preparation is a continually evolving process (for parents and teachers), not a static structure of techniques and knowledge.
- Parents’ individual needs and differences help determine class content.
- Active, creative self-expression is critical to childbirth preparation.
- The purpose of childbirth preparation is to prepare mothers to give birth-in-awareness, not to achieve a specific birth outcome.
- Pregnancy and birth outcome are influenced by a variety of factors, but can’t be controlled by planning.
- In order to help parents mobilize their coping resources, it is critical for childbirth classes to acknowledge that unexpected, unwelcome events may happen during labor.
- Parents deserve support for any birth option which might be right for them (whether it be drugs, cesarean, home birth, or bottle-feeding).
- Pain is an inevitable part of childbirth, yet much can be done to ease suffering.
- Pain-coping practices work best when integrated into daily life, rather than “dusted off” for labor.
- Fathers and birth partners help best as birth guardians or loving partners, not as coaches; they also need support.
- For parents, pregnancy, birth, and postpartum is a time of continuous learning and adjustment; holistic support and education should be available throughout that period.
- Childbirth preparation is also parent preparation.
Now, here’s a little more information about our two day class experience and what was covered:
Our class was definitely not what either of us expected, but I will say it was enlightening and helpful and I do believe it built awareness and helped prepare my husband and I for the big day of our son’s arrival.
Here is what was covered, some of which is pretty straight forward and some I explain a bit further.
- The Stages of Labor: The way this was taught and discussed in our class really helped paint a picture. Our teacher even acted out a contraction and walked through each step vividly in a way that videos or books couldn’t really accomplish.
- Breathing Exercises
- Stretching Exercises
- Labor Positions
- Preparing Your Partner to Support & Comfort: I really liked the guidance with this part of the labor preparation. I don’t want my husband to feel pressure like he has to coach me through something neither of us has been through. I knew before the class, that all I wanted was his support and comfort, but that isn’t self explanatory. This class helped break down what that looks like during labor… When it’s important to give a lot of support and how to do it and when it’s better to take a step back. The class also covered discovering how to support in the right way specific to each couple’s needs.
- Getting Comfortable with your Partner’s Touch: This one goes hand in hand with the last one. You know when you give your partner a massage and you think you’re doing great but they keep saying, “Ouch” or “That’s too soft.” Well that’s exactly what we honed in on during class. It’s important to communicate and try different touch to find what works best for the mother and what is most comforting for her. If you go in blind, thinking you just already know what you both like, it could work out, but it could also do the opposite of it’s intention and could cause more irritation and discomfort during such an important time. I didn’t even realize until we did these exercises how much we needed this.
- Pain Coping Strategies & Techniques: During these exercises, we were put in an uncomfortable state to simulate a contraction and we tried different pain coping strategies and techniques. Some worked for me and others didn’t. These techniques included breathing through the pain, but either focusing, distracting, or embracing what is happening around you and that pain. This was so helpful to practice ahead of time and find what works best for me.
- Finding Your Recipe for Moving Through Pain: This one goes along with the previous, but takes it a step further. In addition to discovering what pain coping strategies and techniques worked for me and the type of touch preferred, we also discussed any other comforts or things that we wanted present during those challenging stages of birth.
- Preparing for ANY birth outcome: Natural, medicated, surgical etc. While everyone in the class strongly hoped for a natural birth like me, the class prepares you for many outcomes so that you are knowledgable and more comfortable concerning these prior to birth day so if they were to happen there would be less stress and anxiety surrounding them. Knowledge and preparation for any outcome is key.
- Openly Discussing Fears: Not only did we all share and discuss our fears surrounding birth during class, but we also discussed and worked through how to push past and deal with these fears head on. This is so important as these fears can be hid deeply away for the majority of pregnancy and then during birth, it is very possible that they could resurface and prevent the body from moving forward naturally in the process, almost causing the body to freeze up and not allow progression.
- Creating Birth Art: To encourage focus on what birth and pregnancy means to you through tapping into the creative. This was very challenging and not a favorite of mine or my husband’s since we aren’t the most artistic people, but looking back it was a very good way to just allow yourself to focus on things you may not think about when it comes to pregnancy or labor. One of the birth art exercises was to draw what you think the world looks like currently from your baby’s point of view. It was very interesting to think about this and then to hear the other couple’s share their drawings and the meaning behind them.
I hope if you are currently searching for a birth class or may be in the future, that this post was helpful in learning a little more about the Birthing From Within philosophy. As always, please ask if you have any questions and I would also love to hear from you if there are other methods or philosophies you would like to share your experiences with.
Lots of love and good health,
Tasha, The Non-Toxic Newbie