Poor Mary on her donkey trying to find a nice place to have her precious baby, only to be showed to a stable filled with animals. If this was to happen nowadays we’d all be fuming that we didn’t get to our hospital room with a bed, warm water and a midwife.
But I want to share with you why I think Mary’s stable birth wasn’t as bad as we once thought.
1. When Mary was in labour, she set off on her donkey to find somewhere to give birth. She would have been upright sat on that donkey with her legs straddled wide, her open pelvis would have meant plenty of room for baby Jesus to travel down and this would have meant lots of pressure on her cervix to help it dilate.
2. Notice on her very long search for a place to birth she didn’t just accidentally have her baby on the pavement outside the local pub. That wouldn’t have made a very biblical story now would it?? You see our bodies have this funny way of having our backs. If adrenaline is high and we are stressed (for example being told a big fat, “No room at the inn” several times) our bodies can stall labour. Only when she found a safe place to birth did her labour crack on (that stable would have been nesting at its best!)
3. There was no bed in that stable. Beds are not always our friends in labour yet lots of birth rooms make the bed the centre point. Having no bed in the centre of the stable would have meant that Mary would have needed to walk, kneel, lean, squat, go on all fours to get into a comfortable position. This would have meant that baby Jesus would have been able to navigate through the pelvis a lot easier than if Mary saw a bed and then got on it.
4. It was dark. It was night time and there would have been no lights to just switch on in the stable. A dim lantern would have been the only light (and the North Star of course) meaning that melatonin (the darkness hormone) would have been at its highest. Melatonin acts on the uterus to increase contractions meaning a smoother labour.
5. There were no onlookers. Her mother didn’t just pop in to see if she was ok. Her other children weren’t demanding snacks or needing picking up from the school run. There was no midwife, no doctors, no change of staff, no staff just popping in to take equipment or check the resus. There’s a theory called the Fear Of Observeration. Whilst we may not consciously realise this, having people watching us in birth can make us behave differently and this can interfere with birth. I’m not for one minute suggesting that Mary shouldn’t have had a midwife there but, I think limiting her birth partner to just Joseph was a good idea.
So before you rush out to book the nearest Inn complete with stables and animals for your birth, notice that these 5 Top Tips for birth can be transferred to any birth scenario. Meaning that you can boss your birth like Mary, in all birth settings minus the straw and hay in your manger.
Want to know more about how you can help get the birth you want? Read a real life birth story and how she stacked the odds in her favour- Gayles Birth Story here.
I want to tell you a story about this pregnant Mum I knew. She worked in a predominantly female workforce and one specific day at the office at tea break, they got into a convo about birth.
“My labour was 52 hours and ended in an emergency caesarean.”
“I bled too much.”
“ I was transferred and it was a nightmare. The pain was awful.”
The stories went on and on. The only lady that didn’t get involved was my pregnant friend, it was her first, and one other mother.
Needless to say, my pregnant friend spent the rest of the day thinking about the horror stories and the birth that was inevitably in the not too far away future. She felt awful.
If you are currently pregnant whilst reading this, I’m sure this situation is, sadly, all too familiar for you.
The other mother, who didn’t say anything in the group, caught her at the end of the day and said to her, “ I actually had a great birth, it was fine and I’d do it all again. I just didn’t want to say it infront of everyone as I didn’t want to be a dick.”
This woman felt like she couldn’t share her birth story as it was a good one. She didn’t want to make the other women feel like their births were ‘less’ than hers. She didn’t want to be THAT person. The one who makes everyone roll their eyes because she got lucky or had it easy.
And that right there, pretty much sums up what society thinks about birth. We are in a birth culture that thinks that if you have a good birth, you got lucky.
But what does this do then for pregnant women and their births?
If you mostly hear nightmareish birth stories you are actually more likely to have a dramatic birth because of the stories you hear. As when the time comes for you to give birth, you are more than likely going to feel scared about what’s in store for you from the stories that you’ve heard.
Will it be 56 hours like Sarah’s?
Will I bleed like Susan? etc. etc.
This then means that adrenaline is going to be higher in your body. Adrenaline effects your birth in a negative way making you feel more PAIN and increasing your chances to intervention. It also means that because you’re FEELING panicked, you are also going to feel that birth is dramatic and traumatic. Meaning that then YOU are most likely going to be that person over coffee who tells the other pregnant women that birth is in fact, awful. Actually, more importantly to you, you are going to look back on the day your baby came into the world with a dark fog of fear or panic.
You know what else is interesting. We have become so accustomed to these dramatic birth stories that you feel like a minority if you have a GOOD birth. Our beliefs are that actually birth is awful and if you have a good one then you must be an anomaly, a “lucky one” and that you shouldn’t brag about your luck.
How backward is that?
So that if you are a first time pregnant mother who says… “Oh I’d like to just use gas and air and water.” People snigger, roll their eyes and mutter “Ha, you’ll see” and then you go off thinking how silly you must be for thinking that as a first time pregnant mother you can have a birth like you imagine. How very naïve of you.
I also think it’s important to distinguish why you want to have that waterbirth with gas and air on a midwife led unit. Is that because that means calm and in control to you? If so, maybe it’s the calmness and the feeling in control that you’d like, rather than the water. From working on a consulant led unit as a midwife, I know for fact that intervention doesn’t always mean bad experience and waterbirth doesn’t always mean good experience. But I’ll save that for another blog post.
If you have a good birth story, SHARE IT. Don’t feel silenced by the negative ones.
Don’t feel like you got lucky.
Don’t keep those positive birth vibes to yourself. Don’t be THAT person.
Don’t be a dick 😉
If you would like to change the way you think about birth to a more positive one and learn ways to keep you feeling positive about birth all the way till you have your baby in your arms (this is what hypnobirthing is!) then take a look at Hypnobirthing and Antenatal Ed. Online with midwife, Beth.
If you’re local to Gloucestershire you can get the group hypnobirthing courses here.
(Edited to add.. I want to make it really clear that this blog is not to silence anyone who’s birth wasn’t great. Talking heals and sharing your birth when things were traumatic can be a way to discover that you are not alone! It’s just good to be aware of the effects that sharing stories can have on pregnant Mums and their births.)
photo credits @the_birth_day
This has got to be one of the biggest highs in life EVER!! Who else can remember those moments after their baby was born? You see this little being that you’ve made and grown for the first time.. you smell her little head, watch her screwed up little face trying to look beyond the swollen nose and eyebrows to work out if your baby looks like Mum or Dad.
The couple of hours after Delphi was born was amazing. We were left in the room in skin to skin, with dim lights just to get to know this brand new baby girl. It was a magical time all round as Rob got his hands on a coffee for the first time that night (it was about 5am!). The midwife threw in some toast too so it was pretty much perfect.
I’m under no illusion that it’s always this magical and always this early. After long births or ones that have had intervention, it can be really overwhelming and tiredness can become all consuming. But there will be a time, maybe a couple of hours later or a couple of days, if baby is in SCBU or if you’re feeling shattered where you can enjoy this time.
I did hypnobirthing with one couple who focussed more on this time than the birth itself. She thought to herself that no matter how Birth happened she wanted to do everything in her power to ensure that she got her “Baby Bubble”. She delayed weighing, wanted dim lights and uninterrupted skin to skin. It’s these moments that you could argue means so much more than the birth itself.
This Golden Hour has so many benefits such as helping with bonding, breastfeeding, helping your baby adapt to life in the big wide world. The rush of love can happen now or it can happen in the next few days, never beat yourself up if this doesn’t happen straight away as birth can be overwhelming.
Any pregnant Mums thought about this time and how you’d like it to be?
What was your first couple of hours like with your baby? Join the conversation here.
Photo creds Chui King Li Photography
I don’t know if this was the result of too much gas and air at this point or one of Robs cracking jokes but either way it looks like we’re having a grand old time! Anyone who’s been through labour knows that it’s not all shits and giggles, but a solid birth partner that can bring the funnies goes a long way for those oxytocin levels.
So to all the birth partners out there, who don’t just want to be sat in the corner with their popcorn, remember you’ll be the biggest source of oxytocin in that birth room. Never underestimate your role 💪🏻✨
You may be surprised to know that this is all part of hypnobirthing. It’s not all relaxation and breathing, it’s about learning ways to make you feel great during labour. For me that was this man right there ❤️ some gas and air 👌🏼 and I was on to a winner.
Did you have an awesome birth partner at your birth? What did you find most helpful?
Join the conversation here.
Chui King Li Photography 📸
#Hypnobirthing #BirthLikeABoss #LaughterIsTheBestMedicine
One thing I do quite regularly to check in on myself is think in years to come … what will I look back on this time and think of. On the more morbid days I think on my death bed, what will flash before my eyes. (Heavy for a Friday morning I know!) More often than not for me it’s to do with how much time I spend on TBTBC vs. my family time. A never ending battle for most working mothers I’m sure.
One specific time though, when this deathbed tactic massively helped me was when I was considering getting a birth photographer for my fourth baby. I nearly didn’t do it as I was nervous that some of the other midwives wouldn’t get it. I felt extremely diva ish 💁🏼♀️ rocking up to my birth (the place where I will be going back to work!) with a photographer. An imagined fear of being judged. I nearly didn’t do it as Rob openly didn’t get it, he thought I was weird 😆. Anyway, I obviously checked in on myself and thought of myself in my elderly years and knew that the captures of one (of four) of the greatest moments of my life would be far greater than any judgement I would get from anyone else. So I did it, and now thanks to Chui King Li I have one of my greatest achievements in life to look on (which I do on the regs) and cherish for ever. The only regret I have is not doing it with all of them!!
Anyway, my point of this story is that birth matters. The reason why I like looking back on my photos so much was because that day mattered. I brought my baby girl into this world on that day. It was an incredible day. Birth is not just a means to an end. It’s the mark of the end of a pregnancy and the start of being a mother. It’s just as, if not more important as your wedding day that you spend thousands of pounds on and months sometimes years of prepping. In years to come it will be a day that you will remember, you will want to share what happened with your children just as your own mother tells you. Why do you think mothers tell their birth stories so much when they’re together… because it’s important to them. How they felt on that day is important to them. When you’re elderly you will remember your birth and how it made you feel more so than the colour fabric of your baby’s pram or the colour of the walls in the nursery or their first outfit.
Birth is so much more than one day. Birth matters.
Join in on the conversation here.
Get birth ready here.