Deep breaths, in and out: Emily Writes has you.
There’s so much advice out there about how to have the perfect birth. There are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of books; many, many blogs by experts whose qualifications are “gave birth once” or “haven’t given birth but have lots of opinions” or my personal favourite genre, “haven’t given birth but I know what I would do and it starts with not eating anything but kale”.
So I thought I would write the definitive guide. The one guide to rule all birthing guides. The one stop shop for advice on how to get a baby from your inside to your outside. This guide will cover everything from hypno-birthing to god-no-birthing to “I will punch you in your fucking face if you touch me again” birthing.
I know, I have given birth at least twice that I know of. And I have the expert qualification of accidentally being someone who writes about parenting. Trust me. Trust ya mama Emily.
I’m going to break this down for you – the all-important stuff. All the other advice is bad. Here is non-contradictory, sensible, real advice. Deep breaths, in and out, let’s go:
Choose a midwife
Yes I know, Sharon who changed her name to Rainbow-Fluid says you can give birth without one and maybe you can but who wants that? You want a warrior midwife who has your back and supports you 100%. An OB is a good idea to if you need an OB. Doulas are also great and can help spur you on when your partner is being an asshole by not taking your place on all fours.
Important: Do not get a swarm of bees in human clothes. Also, do not get two Labradors sitting on top of each other in a doctor coat. Whatever you do, get a live human to help you.
It might have occurred to you not to breathe. But you should. Because breathing helps us in most activities like walking around and existing.
When I was giving birth my husband said “it’s all about breathing”. God rest his soul. He will be missed.
You can have an orgasmic birth
Orgasmic birth isn’t a myth! All you need to do is put on that absolute panty-dropper banger “Africa” by Toto. Dim the lights. Breathe deeply. Get the security guard who is terrified of you because you’ve got no pants on and you’re making extreme eye contact screaming “It’s gonna take a lot to take me away from you/There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do” to massage your perineum counter clockwise. And then go back in time and not get pregnant and not give birth and instead have an orgasm. Voila! Orgasmic birth!
Remember that in your grandmother’s day she didn’t make a fuss
You think that birth is painful? In my day we had to walk 500 miles and then walk 500 more just to be the mum who walked 500 miles to poop a kid out at the front door (and we never complained, never made a fuss). Over broken glass, in the snow, we gave birth to no less than 8000 children per family. So many children we had to name them all Bill and Mary. None of this Nevaeh shit.
Cherish every moment
Do you hear that beautiful sound of your anus joining your vagina? Cherish it. Be grateful that you will never be able to sit on a bar stool again. Being a mother is the greatest gift of all time and even if you have a vajanus now you need to remember you are #blessed. And if you complain ever about the fact that simply waving to a friend means you pee yourself you are a monster who does not deserve to be a mother. You’ve got this! Blessed be the fruit!
Shhhh! Birth is private and we must not talk about it
If anyone asks about your birth make sure you just smile brightly and say “it was all worth it”. Sharing your story is not necessary! Your baby is here and that’s all that matters. You’re just a vessel remember – happy mum, happy baby! BE HAPPY. All that matters is your baby being healthy. Swallow down any trauma for the comfort of others.
If you had a natural drug free unmedicated vaginal out my vagina birth, make sure you tell the world. You should never talk about birth, but you should always talk about it if it was straightforward or without drugs.
Make sure you subtly encourage the idea that a c-section or medicated birth or a birth with interventions is a lesser birth so that the mum knows she hasn’t reached the pinnacle of birthing. Because we all know when children are at school they separate out the kids by their birth, rank them, and then the ones who had the most natural of natural births get to meet the queen.
Remember birth is easy
People have birthed for a millennia and it is only now that we pathologise birth and make it seem like it’s difficult. Remember, it’s not birth, it’s you. Don’t be afraid. Most c-sections are avoidable if you just have a big poop before you give birth.
Remember birth is impossible
If you’re feeling empowered going into birth then maybe don’t. People die during child birth. My cousin’s auntie’s locksmith’s daughter’s baby just clawed its way out of her stomach like Alien. That could happen to you. Just for some night-time reading, here’s a 19834 page list of things that can go wrong in birth. Be afraid.
The internet is bad for birth and all advice is terrible – you have the power to change that
You got me! This is my only advice. Talk to the people you love and trust ahead of your birth. Talk to people who can support you after your birth if you’re struggling with the physical or emotional aftermath. Know that you’re loved and that your experience matters. Ignore the blogs and advice unless it soothes you and lifts you up.
Anything that makes you feel like garbage – chuck it in the bin. All of the advice, all of the lectures, they’re mostly bullshit. Look for the agenda, look for the motives.
Feel how you feel. If you’re afraid, that’s understandable, seek support so you feel strong ahead of birth. If you’re not afraid, I’m so glad, help to lift others.
Reject narratives that hurt mothers – c-sections actually save lives. Epidurals save lives. Interventions are often needed – sometimes they’re not, but when you talk about this remember you’re talking about real people. We can and should talk about birth and the ways systems work or don’t work to support pregnant people – but we should never lose sight of the fact that we are talking about each other.
Consider your language. When you say “natural” what do you mean? Do you mean someone else’s birth is unnatural? Is that a fair assumption to make? If you say a birth is “drug-free” wouldn’t “unmedicated” work just as well? And what are the motives for broadcasting this? Is it being shared in a way to support other mothers? Or is it buying into the hierarchy of birth experiences?
Don’t forget we are birthing mothers as well as babies. I was lucky enough to have two births that didn’t require any intervention. I consider this to be luck and the skill of my midwife. Nothing else. I didn’t prepare, I didn’t get my husband to massage my lady gooch. I didn’t eat certain foods. I didn’t practice hypno-birthing or llama birthing. I don’t call it a natural birth even though it meets whatever criteria there seems to be for that – because labelling has never helped me connect with other mothers.
But most of all, it doesn’t define me as a mother. And it won’t define you, no matter what your birthing experience is.
Finally, don’t eat curry to encourage labour because you might shit in the hallway of the hospital outside the lift. Just saying.
Emily Writes is the editor of The Spinoff Parents. Her books Rants in the Dark and Is it Bedtime Yet? are out now. Follow her on Facebook here.
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