Perfect Birth, Part 2: It’s Personal

A couple of weeks ago, I shared my heart about an issue that I know plagues expectant mothers everywhere: what does it take to have a perfect birth?

I touched on the fact that while childbirth education is imperative, and support during labor is helpful, we still don’t know how any woman will react to the labor process until she is already in the moment. I made the point that all births, no matter what they look like, are victories to be celebrated. And I mean that. All births are their own brand of perfect. But sometimes, for some women, the truth is this:

Even perfect birth can be traumatic.

I would be foolish not to acknowledge that some women have frightening or even life-threatening births and are forced to come to terms with their experience. For one reason or another, the process simply doesn’t “work” in some situations. For some of these women, my testimony about my disappointing birth experience and my injured feelings of self-worth might be exactly what they need. But for others, well… maybe not so much.

Beyond our physical, emotional, and spiritual bodies, we are each also composed of our own complicated list of experiences. We have a mind, which we discuss in class, but we also have a subconscious mind, which we couldn’t even begin to cover: immature in its ability to make sense of our experiences, and endlessly vulnerable to the hoaxes of the enemy (again: see the Devotional). Working quietly behind the scenes, beneath our cool, collected exterior, it shapes our reactions to every one of our life experiences.

It’s personal.

In the five years since starting my childbirth services company, I have had no choice but to grow as an individual. I have been brought to my knees by some of my own life experiences. Shaken to the core of my beliefs. The shaping of my character as an adult has been arduous, and I have fought hard to find—and hold on to—what is true. In the process, I have also come to see some of that which is not.

I have learned something very important: We are each fighting our own battles. Maybe that sounds cliché, but this is relevant in all areas of life – including the quest for a great birth. For me to come alongside a woman and preach “worth,” when her own personal life experiences have shaped her to need a message of “safety” (for example), would mean that I have missed her altogether.

But how can I help? How do I know what someone needs, when it is beyond their own understanding? How do I discern the tune of their song, unless they themselves can sing it to me?

It’s possible.

The message I offer in my classes about worth and birth idolatry and relationship problems is—in all humility—good. It is quality stuff, and I will continue to teach it. But if I am to partner with God in caring for souls, then I must work from the heart with all of the skill allotted to me. There is more I can offer on an individual basis, seeking hearts and re-adjoining them to God’s in a way that is so much bigger, so much more personal, than the quest for the perfect birth.

It’s time to integrate more. Eden’s Promise is ready to offer you – each mother, father, and child- more than I ever dreamed possible. Click here to find out more!

Jennifer DeBrito, CSP, CCLD, CCBE is a Master Splankna Practitioner  Colorado Springs Doula and Childbirth Educator.She is the author of Expectant Parents Workshop: Devotional, and the creator of the Expectant Parents Workshop childbirth preparation class. Jennifer was the 3-time doula to Suzanne Hadley Gosselin (esteemed author of Expectant Parentsa pregnancy/childbirth/parenting book by Focus on the Family). In addition to coaching expectant parents toward a Christ-centered childbirth, Jennifer also specializes in prenatal and postpartum wellness coaching and Splankna Therapy Colorado Springs. Jennifer is a featured blogger for My719Moms.com. To learn more about Jennifer, go to EdensPromiseLLC.com.

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Perfect Birth, Part One: This Doula’s Perspective

I attended a perfect birth yesterday.

I mean it. It was everything the couple I was working with had ever dreamed of.

I texted my husband to tell him I’d be home soon, and he responded, “Congrats!” – referring to the great birth. Suddenly, after 5 years in the business, I had a revelation that rather shook me:

I couldn’t take credit.

It’s true. I did the same things I always do. I applied essential oils. I gauged my client’s need for touch vs. space. I helped her change positions, and I coached her husband to ensure that he would be the person she remembered supporting her the most. And there it was: the perfect birth.

What struck me was this question:

Why, among all of the couples I work with, who follow and implement the same “formula” that I offer, do some couples have a “perfect” birth, while others don’t?

I know some might say it’s all about the right doctor, or the right birth plan, or even – let’s be honest – the right doula. But if that were the case, then why have I seen such vastly different births among healthy women who have the same doctors, the same hospitals, and the same birth plans?

Could it go beyond Clary Sage and Pelvic Tilts?

I once read a fellow doula’s comment on a social networking site that read, “Well , you can’t win them all . . .”

We all knew what it meant. Lots of other doulas on the page even “liked” it, presumably out of pity. She clearly had attended an ‘imperfect’ birth, and she felt like a failure. As if the brand new life she had witnessed emerging was somehow less because of how it had entered into the world. Or, more accurately (and sadly), as if it was a loss.

What if there’s more to it than that? What if we are muddying the waters in an already beautiful journey by always aiming, either inwardly or outwardly, for that ‘perfect’ outcome; by calling ‘imperfect’ birth a loss when it is obviously a valiant and triumphant win? What if we are stirring the pot of disappointment and depression when we should be aiming for balance and gratitude?

Every birth is a win. Every birth is perfect.

I’ve fought hard in the past to protect my clients from the aftermath of a disappointing birthing experience. In my humblest opinion, I work harder than most to set realistic expectations and to help train hearts—along with minds—to be prepared for whatever is to come.

But am I, as a doula, willing to admit that my worth is not wrapped up in the outcome of a birth, any more than a mother’s should be? Am I willing to see an imperfect birth as its own brand of perfection, without second-guessing my own work?

The perfect birth I attended yesterday wasn’t more. And neither am I.

I’m good at my job. I like what I do, and I know that my presence and skills can bring great comfort and guidance to expectant parents. But I have to be willing to admit that imperfect births aren’t shameful. Not for the mother, which I already knew, but not for me, either. With this new revelation, I am even more free. I can love more fully and offer more of myself, knowing that my presence matters, but probably not in the ways that I think. My support can be truly unconditional, and I can come alongside new parents to celebrate every birth – no matter what it looks like – as a victory.

That is what a perfect birth looks like.

Jennifer DeBrito, CSP, CCLD, CCBE is a Master Splankna Practitioner, Doula, and Childbirth Educator in Colorado Springs. She is the author of Expectant Parents Workshop: Devotional, and the creator of the Expectant Parents Workshop childbirth preparation class. Jennifer was the 3-time doula to Suzanne Hadley Gosselin (esteemed author of Expectant Parentsa pregnancy/childbirth/parenting book by Focus on the Family). In addition to coaching expectant parents toward a Christ-centered childbirth, Jennifer also specializes in prenatal and postpartum wellness coaching and Splankna Therapy Colorado Springs. Jennifer is a featured blogger for My719Moms.com. To learn more about Jennifer, go to EdensPromiseLLC.com.

Ask the Doula: Probiotics

Hey, Jen,
What are your thoughts on probiotics? Do you take any as a supplement? Do you have a yogurt you like for you and your kids?

-T

Dear T,
Probiotics are great–not to mention essential during rounds of antibiotics! They’re also helpful during colds and for general stomach upset. My thought is, if in doubt, take some! I actually keep a jar in the fridge for whenever we should need it. The one I bought was from Whole Foods and is called ‘MaxiBaby dophilus,’ but there are lots of options. No one in my family takes it daily, but we most certainly could. (I do, however, cut the serving size way down for the kids, giving them 1/4 to 1/2 of the tiny dose that is recommended for adults.) Probiotics are great for boosting immunity and keeping the digestive tract in great working order. Of course, I have to say this: they are not a substitute for a healthy, fiber-rich diet. You still need to eat right and feed your children well in order to stay healthy.

Yogurt is also an option. I go with Greek yogurt that is low in sugar since neither of my kids are big meat eaters. I don’t feed my 2-year-old a whole one, though. We split it.

Kroger brand has the best nutrition facts and price that I’ve seen so far–especially plain or vanilla flavor. There are other, creamier brands, but they are quite a bit higher in sugar. (I shoot for under 12 grams in any food I eat.) Personally speaking, my absolute minimum requirement when choosing a yogurt–whether it be Greek or regular–would be that it contain no artificial sweeteners, which have questionable effects on the brains of children. If you can afford organic/hormone-free, and it’s also low in sugar, do it!! If not, know that by following the parameters laid out here, you are still making the best choices that you can for your sweet children.

Hope that helps!
Jen

Jennifer DeBrito, CCLD, CCBE is a Holistic Christian Doula in Colorado Springs. She is the author of Expectant Parents Workshop: Devotional and the owner of Eden’s Promise, LLC. In addition to coaching parents toward a Christ-centered childbirth, she also specializes in wellness coaching for prenatal and postpartum families.

Ask the Doula: “How Do I Know Which Foods Are Safe to Eat?”

Jen,

 I am not sure how much you typically focus on the food side of pregnancy with your clients, but I have found it to be fascinating and slightly overwhelming with all the conflicting research. Do you have any opinions on eating raw honey or sprouted grains during pregnancy?

-Client

Dear Client,

There is a lot of conflicting research! I could obviously go either way here, but when it came to my own kids, I generally found that I felt better (emotionally) if I just played it safe. The worry I experienced whenever I pushed the limits simply wasn’t worth it. Another thing to consider is that neither of those foods offer significant health benefits. So in the big picture, I find myself asking, ‘Why bother?’ Avocado would be just as delicious on a sandwich, and a little agave nectar, or even sugar, would sweeten my tea just fine. One thing you do know to be bad for the baby is stress. So if it’s going to stress you out to eat it, don’t! (I do actually recommend raw honey during labor, though. It’s perfect for keeping you energized.)Some questions for you to keep in mind in the future are: a) where did you find the information and b) how badly do you want to eat the forbidden food (whatever it is)? If you got the info from your doctor, then follow it. If you got the information elsewhere with no mention from your doc, it’s probably not that big of a deal. But if you’re like me, and you find yourself questioning your decision to eat a debatable food that you could have lived without, then you’ll know to choose more carefully next time.

Chances are, you’ll be fine–whatever you decide. I mean, honestly, as long as you’re not eating paint, the likelihood of something you have eaten affecting your baby are very slim. But overall, I’d recommend going with the least stressful scenario for you (and always follow your doctor’s orders).

Jen

Do you have a question you would like to ask about wellness during pregnancy? Email your question to:  edenspromisellc@gmail.com

Jennifer DeBrito, CCLD, CCBE is a doula and childbirth educator in Colorado Springs. In addition to coaching expectant parents toward a Christ-centered childbirth, she also specializes in wellness coaching for prenatal and postpartum families. She is the author of Expectant Parents Workshop and the proud owner of Eden’s Promise, LLC.