Some of my clients are surprised when I openly tell them that I can’t teach them how to give birth. I can’t tell them what to do, where to do it or who to do it with. Because here’s the thing. They already know.
When a client starts an in-person hypnobirthing course with me the first thing they receive, before I’ve even told them where the toilet is (and pregnant women need to pee) is a second hand-book with a hand-written inscription reminding them that this is knowledge that has been passed down through generations. Pregnancy classes are a common part of the modern pregnancy journey but before that there were women’s circles, birth art and written testimony. Pregnancy, birth and motherhood all feature heavily as part of the women’s experience.
In that second-hand book that I’ve chosen to gift my clients, I make a polite request that expectant parents pass the book on when they have finished having babies. It might not be explicitly said in the inscription, but what I am suggesting is that as a woman who gives birth, you become a custodian of a treasured piece of history. As the people giving birth, we choose what birth stories we pass on to the women who will birth after us. And so, by “joining the club” we take on a responsibility to our daughters and to our sons to treat those birth stories with respect.
I believe that birth stories should be told honesty and received with curiosity.
In joining the club, I want you to know that when it comes to the next generation’s time, their birth stories will be their own just as ours are. There is no right, there is no wrong.
Now, I could go into a tirade here about how the mainstream narrative of birth Is largely controlled by the patriarchy. But this is a space where the matriarchy reigns supreme and so instead I will share with you this birth video. I’ve watched it 100 times and I’d gladly watch it 100 more because it is the perfect antidote to the narrative that we see of birth peddled in mainstream media such as One Born Every Minute, Call the Midwife and Eastenders. These entertainment shows are looking for the money shot. Woman, lying on her back, face full of tension, making a fair bit of noise.
And whilst that may be your way, I want it to be your way because that is the way you have chosen. Not because you are trying to fit your birth into a well documented fantasy of how birth should look. That fantasy is the fantasy of filmmakers and entertainers. And the birth room is the place for real life shit. That is why my hypnobirthing courses make space for honest conversations about what you know, what you believe and how you feel.
If you are brave enough to allow a curious approach to birth you may open a whole world of potential that you hadn’t considered.
Look beyond your mother, or your grandmother. Look to the ancient wisdom that women held before medicine, science and technology. Famously, the first calendar known to man tracked the lunar cycles and that begs the question why did a man need to know what was happening with the moon? Well, there’s an argument that that first calendar was created by a woman, to track her cycles because we are nature. And if there is one thing that we can count on, it is that birth works. That is why we are all here. Look beyond the jokes about sunroof births or the easy way out. If you find yourself in a situation where you choose a caesarean birth and you and your baby both come home whole then that ancient wisdom that runs through you, has done it’s job.
But don’t let that ancient wisdom be snuffled out, by fears held by other people. That may be your care providers, your friends or your family. Those are not the people who are going to raise your baby. The people who will nurture the ideas and beliefs that your little one grows to have.
We are nature. Giving birth is natural. There are no rules on how you do it but there are choices. Even in a complicated situation you will have choices to make. So make those choices with your whole heart. With complete trust in yourself and with the ancient wisdom that runs through you.
Because when you give birth, you don’t just meet your baby. You meet yourself as a mum. A first-time mum, second-time mum, I’ve even taught third and fourth time mums. These are women, reborn with their babies. And they know shit.