Empowering Yourself Through Education: Understanding Physiological Birth and Reclaiming Your Birth Experience

So you like giving birth naturally…. Now what?

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In today’s society, childbirth is often portrayed as a frightening and overwhelming experience. Hollywood depictions and personal anecdotes tend to focus on traumatic births and emergency situations. However, birth doesn’t have to be this way. By educating ourselves about the normal physiological process of birth, we can empower ourselves and transform the birthing experience into something incredible.

What is Physiological Birth?

Physiological birth refers to the natural, unmedicated process of labor and delivery. It is a birth that occurs without medical interventions, such as induction, epidurals, or cesarean sections. In a physiological birth, the body is allowed to progress through labor at its own pace, guided by the natural hormones and instincts that have been fine-tuned over tens of thousands of years of evolution [1]. Unfortunately, many hospitals and healthcare providers have never witnessed a true physiological birth. They are accustomed to medically managed births, which often involve interventions. While these interventions can be life-saving when necessary, they are not always required for a safe and healthy delivery.

Reclaiming Your Birth Experience Through Education

To reclaim the power of physiological birth, it’s really helpful to educate yourself about the birthing process. Understanding what a normal physiological birth looks like can help you make informed decisions and advocate for yourself during labor and delivery [2].

By learning about the stages of labor, the hormones involved, and the natural coping mechanisms your body so intelligently employs, you can work with your body rather than against it. This knowledge can also help you communicate your preferences and desires to your healthcare provider, ensuring that your birthing experience aligns with your values and goals.

The Benefits of Embracing Physiological Birth

Embracing physiological birth has numerous benefits for both parent and baby. When allowed to progress naturally, the birthing process releases a cascade of hormones that help the birthing person cope with pain, bond with baby, and recover more quickly postpartum [3].

Additionally, babies born through physiological birth tend to have an easier transition to life outside the womb. They are more likely to be alert, responsive, and ready to breastfeed shortly after birth.

Transforming Fear into Empowerment

By understanding and embracing physiological birth, we can transform the birthing experience from one of fear and trauma to one of empowerment and joy. While medical interventions absolutely have their place and can be life-saving when needed, addressing physiological tools first can help make the process more easeful and reduce the need for interventions.

Remember, your body is built for this. It knows how to birth. By educating yourself and reclaiming the power of physiological birth, you can stack the cards in your favor for an incredible, transformative experience.

For more information on physiological birth and how to prepare for an empowering birthing experience, watch the video below:

In conclusion, birthing families have the right to choose the path that feels best for them, whether that is a physiological birth, a medically managed birth, or a cesarean section. We also know that not everything is within our control and medical interventions have their place. Having a team you trust that understands how and when they might be warranted and also understands how to employ physiological support tools first, is key to stacking the cards in your favor for the birth you want. The most important thing is that the decision is made from a place of knowledge and support, not from a place of fear. By educating ourselves about the options available and understanding the power of our own bodies, we can reclaim our birth experiences and transform them into something truly empowering.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a physiological birth?

A physiological birth allows labor and delivery to unfold naturally, following the intuitive rhythm of the body and hormones. It empowers the birthing mother/person to trust their innate ability to give birth without medical interventions like induction or epidurals.

2. What are the benefits of a physiological birth?

Physiological birth facilitates the release of beneficial hormones that help the birthing family cope with sensations, bond with their baby, and recover with greater ease. Newborns tend to be alert, ready to breastfeed, and transition smoothly to life outside the womb. Many note how empowering and transformative their physiological birth experience was. Truly, it is a life-changing experience for many.

3. How can I prepare for a physiological birth?

Educating yourself about the birthing process, practicing relaxation techniques like breathing exercises, preparing your body with a program such as Body Ready Prenatal, learning birth positions and techniques in Body Ready Birth, and surrounding yourself with a supportive birth team can help you feel confident and prepared for a physiological birth.

4. Can I have a physiological birth in a hospital?

Absolutely. Some hospitals support physiological births when the birthing person’s preferences are clearly communicated and respected by the healthcare team. And the more we demand it, the more it happens! The tides are turning. It is important that you do your research and see if physiological birth tends to be respected at that hospital. Ask your local birth community (doulas tend to know and see a lot in their local birth landscape and can help guide you). You do not want to have to fight for the birth you want while you are birthing so birth location is one of the most important factors in physiological birth.

5. What is an empowering birth experience?

An empowering birth is one where the birthing person feels respected, informed, and in control throughout the process. Their choices are honored, and they are supported in creating a positive, transformative experience. It does not have to be physiological to be empowering. There is no one right way to give birth.

6. How can I cultivate an empowering birth experience?

Educating yourself, communicating your preferences clearly, and surrounding yourself with a supportive birth team are key to feeling empowered during your birth journey. Consider creating a birth plan and practicing self-advocacy techniques. Above all, believe in yourself and tap into your inner knowing.

7. What role does education play in an empowering birth?

Understanding the physiological birth process allows you to make informed decisions that align with your values and goals. It also helps to reduce fear and build confidence. Confidence and beliefs are hugely important in getting the experience you want. Would you imagine yourself tripping during and important race? NO! You would imagine yourself running fast, the weather in your favor. Education empowers you to communicate effectively with your healthcare providers and feel confident in your choices.

8. How can I advocate for myself during labor and delivery?

Respectfully express your preferences and concerns to your healthcare team. Don’t hesitate to ask questions or seek clarification. Remember, you have the right to make informed choices about your birth experience. Make a birth plan and hire a doula who can help you advocate. Sometimes even just having a doula in the room can make a huge difference, but doulas also should be trained in advocacy skills to help support your journey.

9. What is the difference between a physiological birth and a medically managed birth?

A physiological birth unfolds naturally, guided by the birthing person’s body and hormones, while a medically managed birth involves interventions like induction or epidurals, with healthcare providers taking a more active role.

10. Can I have a physiological birth after a previous cesarean?

Yes, vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) is possible for many birthing people. Open communication with your healthcare provider is crucial to explore your options and ensure a safe, positive experience. There is a lot of fear-mongering and misinformation out there about VBAC. Do your research and find the right team to support you.

References:

[1] Buckley, S. J. (2015). Hormonal physiology of childbearing: Evidence and implications for women, babies, and maternity care. Childbirth Connection Programs, National Partnership for Women & Families.

[2] Lothian, J. A. (2009). Promoting optimal care in childbirth. The Journal of Perinatal Education, 18(4), 32-34.

[3] Uvnäs-Moberg, K. (2013). Oxytocin: The biological guide to motherhood. Amarant Förlag.

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