A "good" birth truly comes in all shapes and sizes, is highly personal and often cannot be defined by the birthing mother and her partner until after the little one is born. We may start our birth journey with a certain set of expectations and hopes, but as birth is often a winding path, our perspectives evolve out of experience and out of necessity. As a mother that has born two children, a birth doula of 9 years and as a student midwife of 3 years, I have seen more than enough birth to know that there truly is no right and there is no wrong, that there is no one way to have a "good" birth. I have also witnessed enough birth to know that when a mother and her partner both feel safe, connected, heard, held, valued, supported and able to make informed decisions along the way, there is a very good chance they will define their unique and powerful birth as a "good" birth, even if it looks very different than anticipated. This is the foundation from which I build and lead the Couple's Birthing Intensive.
Every Intensive that I teach at Blooma starts something like this: "This is not your Grandmother's childbirth education class", which is usually followed by a few knowing laughs because anyone that goes to Blooma and knows our beloved and fearless leader Sarah Longacre, knows that there is nothing old-school and out-dated about our offerings. That statement is then followed-up by something like this: "Instead, this class is about movement, breath, connection, vulnerability, safety, touch, and the amazing hormone 'oxytocin'".
I go on, and I do in fact belabor the point, that "no one gets to define what a 'good' birth is to you. No one. Not your doctor, not your Midwife, not your Nurse. Your doula does not get to define this for you, nor do you friends and family. Only you get to define what a good birth is to you, leaving no room for external judgments and expectations." Then, we spend the next 3.5 hours exploring the opportunities and possibilities of labor and delivery through movement and positions often used by birthing women. I integrate the use of long, full moans and groans that often come during birth, and use touch between couples to foster connection and safety. We discuss how oxytocin works at every stage. I work to help create the reality of vulnerability that happens with birth (yes partners, this means you get to be vulnerable too!) and we explore how to use "informed decision-making" as a pillar of strength in personally defining a "good" birth.
A very clear point is made that just as there is no right or wrong in how to birth a baby, there is no perfect way to support a mother in childbirth either. I work to gently remind partners that they do not have to have the exact right touch, nor the perfect words, but that often just being close, believing in her, grounding her when she needs to feel more safe and simply holding her hand and reminding her that she is loved, may be all she needs. However, because we know that often a mother wants and needs a whole lot of support directly from her partner, we spend a huge amount of time on the stages of labor and how the partner can appropriately and effectively support the mother though physical support and touch, through verbal encouragement and through practical tips like making sure she is drinking, eating, and using the bathroom on a regular basis.
This is not your Grandmother's childbirth education class, as it is far more about getting out of your head and into your body than it is about analyzing the intricacies of birth. But, this class does offer the timeless advice that mothers want and need to be supported, loved, held, and heard in childbirth. Today’s birthing women most often do what their partners present and actively involved in the birth process. This class offers plentiful ways in which the mother can be open to the birth process as it unfolds, as well as an abundance of ways in which the partner can move deeper and more confidently into the birth, so that when their baby is born, both parents look at one another and say, "we rocked that birth together".
Please join me or any of the other amazing Couple’s Birthing Intensive teachers (we each have our own flare!) in one of the monthly offerings in both Minneapolis and St. Paul!
For the next Couple's Birthing Intensive (May 7 & May 25) , click HERE.
For the full Couple's Birthing Intensive, Click HERE.
Written by Brook Holmberg, Birth and Postpartum Doula, Lactation Counselor, Childbirth Educator and Yoga Instructor
(Photo by Megan Crown Photography)