Last week I posted a simple question to my facebook page. “If you’ve given birth, what was one of your favorite comfort measures?” The response was amazing. Over 90 comments later, I was able to compile an extraordinary and comprehensive list of comfort measures, available here. For now, here are a few things that stood out:
1. Mamas are powerful: Phew!! And creative, and sensual, and strong, and wise, and resourceful, and courageous, and bad-ass!
2. The power of support: The difference a partner, doula, midwife can make is enormously meaningful yet often quite simple. Listening, giving permission, holding you up, offering a sip of cold water are just a few examples but the feeling of being supported reaches far beyond that first birth-day. One mama commented on her cesarean birth and the midwife that coached her through the whole process. In her memory, her simple presence was 100% the difference between a positive and negative experience.
3. There is a time and place for epidurals: Not everyone wants to give birth unmedicated and that’s cool. And sometimes a mama wants to go natural but as labor unfolds plans change. (Hello 1.5 hour mega contraction! Could you blame her?!) That’s cool too.
4. Doulas really matter: I just spoke with a friend last night who realized in hindsight just how different his birth experience would have been if they’d hired a doula. Doulas can be a resource for almost every comfort measure people named and several did name their doula! Providing physical, emotional and informational support is our job.
5. Different births are different (even for the same person): Mamas who’ve had more than one baby interestingly reported needing very different comfort measures with each one. One reason why having a doula for every birth makes good sense. You just never know.
6. Sometimes the best part is it being over: Not everyone ends up finding comfort, and that’s okay. You don’t have to have a glorious sensual memory of your birth experience to be an amazing mother or person. That said one mama of 4 mentioned how just talking about it made her actually miss being in labor.
7. We all need different things: There is no one right way to birth and no one right way to feel about your birth. Some loved it, some hated it. Some wanted to be touched, some didn’t. Some wanted to be alone, others loved having people around. Home, hospital. Natural, medicated. Squatting, standing. It’s nice to get the “right” and “wrong” out of birth. There are just too many ways to do it!