To me, birthing means opening up my deepest and most intimate parts. This is both a literal physical truth, and is also true on my emotional, psychological and spiritual levels. I felt a strong need to feel fully supported and to be able to trust those around me, so I could open up so very deeply. My birth was as I wished it – no unnatural interventions or pain relief, but a calm relaxed private home environment, a waterbirth with my husband and independent midwife, Jo. I had a little massage, homeopathy and aromatherapy from Jo when extra support seemed helpful.
I consider myself generally sensitive, and I am aware of subtle power issues between people. I believe that a birthing woman is at her most sensitive. At the best of times, having an unknown or little-known person in my home will mean I am on alert, assessing them and their inner states, adjusting my responses to how they are. I expected that if a midwife I did not know well – or even, did not like – was at my birth, my psychological responses to this fact would induce physiological changes not conducive to my birthing.
At the time of my labour, I wished to be free to focus fully on my birthing process, and not be distracted by dynamics with an unknown midwife. In the weeks and months prior to my birthing, I did not want to worry about which midwife might turn up to the birth. Whilst in an ideal world all midwives would be very aware of their impacts on women (particularly sensitive women like me) in labour, I do not expect every midwife to have such self-awareness. For instance, a local friend had a home birth where she spent most of the labour in the hallway, and gave birth there, because the midwives in her front room were very chatty (she actually wrote into her next birth plan that she wanted midwives to stay away from her unless necessary, and to keep quiet).
At my birth, I felt I had got to know who Jo was, we had spent many hours together, and I felt she had taken time to understand me and get to know me – not just on a chatty or intellectual level, but on a level of being. In my birth plan, my planned method of pain relief was Trust. I really needed to trust my midwife, as well as trust my own ability to open and birth. I did have this (and it was well worth every penny).
As a first time mother, birthing was a huge unknown. Having the certainty that I knew and trusted my midwife Jo helped me to relax during my pregnancy and to look forward to my birth with equanimity.
Gemma from Manchester