How To Respectfully Tell Your Family That You Want A Private Labor and Birth Experience (And Why You Would Want One)
Choosing who is allowed to be in your birthing room, whether at a hospital, birthing center or home, is a very important part of your birthing experience. This discernment should begin even before you enter labor, choosing who you share your goals and fears with carefully. Whatever your goals may be, it is absolutely possible to have a say in who is a part of them, and you should take full advantage of the ability to choose. Although you may not be able to control the nurses on duty, or which midwife or doctor you end up with (depending on when you go into labor), you have the power to choose who stays with you, and who you allow into the room. I have noticed that many women choose to have family members or friends present during their labor, and then end up regretting that decision to some extent.
This makes perfect sense, because labor is a sacred time that calls for a peaceful environment that caters to your preferences. In order for labor to go as smoothly as possible, it is essential to maintain an environment that supports you. Although you love your mother and your sister very much, their nervous chatter and constant text updates to Grandma about your labor progress aren’t helping you to have your baby, they are actually very likely taking away from your ability to do so. Imagine if you had to conceive your baby in front of an audience of family, friends and strangers. While some people may be able to tune out the audience, most of us would have a very difficult time accomplishing the task, if you will. It would feel violating, intrusive and nearly impossible to conceive a baby if strangers and family members casually walked in and out to watch, give input, check your progress and fulfill tasks, etc. The same applies to labor. Labor is an incredibly intimate and vulnerable experience. It requires an environment that supports your full surrender. The more people you have surrounding you, the more “outside” opinions, ideas, judgement, and energy you experience. If a persons energy and philosophy about labor and birth doesn’t jive with yours, you better believe that is going to be subtly felt and you are going to subconsciously feel the pressure of their expectation “vs. yours”. Or, even if someone’s ideas are in line with yours, maybe they are very attached to those ideas and have heavy expectations for you, and you feel the pressure of having to try and live up to them. The possibilities are extensive, and in order to prevent any of them, you must use strong discernment about how you will choose where you labor and who you choose to be there.
So how do we nicely inform our loved ones of our wishes, with out hurting their feelings? Here are four tips for telling your friends and family members that you don’t want them involved in your labor experience,
- Get Straight To The Point. This is truly my motto for everything. We save ourselves a lot of overthinking, brewing and sulking about our choices when we simply make them and let them go. Once you have decided who you really believe will benefit you during labor and birth and who won’t, get straight to the point about it with those people. Just be honest! Honesty is loving, easy and vital to good communication. We don’t need to sugarcoat or create an elaborate explanation to try and ensure that other people accept our honesty, we must simply be honest. We then let go of the outcome and move on knowing we were honest and we are staying true to our highest self. Not only will it save you time, it will save you drama! What do you do when someone tries to fight with you about your decision? You get straight to the point about why you don’t need them involved, in a very loving way, and then you let it go and leave it alone. There is a way to be clear and honest with love, instead of fear. Dont be afraid of what the other persons reaction may be, you can only take charge of YOURSELF and YOUR choices. By making the choice to have a specific environment for labor, you are loving yourself and your baby. If anyone has a problem with that, it is not yours to deal with. Don’t take it personally. Simplify your life with honesty, and get to the point about it.
- Let Go Of What Other People Want. Although it can be difficult to speak up for our own needs and desires, it is essential to loving ourselves and being at peace with our choices. When we stand up for ourselves and our choices, we are teaching others to love themselves in the same way; to stand up for themselves and their choices. On the other hand, when we do things to try and “please” others, we teach that it is okay to put other peoples needs and desires before our own. How do we make the choice that we know is truly best? We let go of what the other person may think about it, and choose the option that WE can wholeheartedly stand behind. When we know that our choice is for our highest good, and not to please any expectations, we realize that it doesn’t matter what others think or how they feel. You will be the one to remember your labor and birthing experience like it was yesterday, you will be the one that has to “live with yourself” for the rest of your life after birth, therefor only your thoughts and feelings about it TRULY matter.
- Trust Your Decision. The easiest way to take the pressure off of telling someone your choice, is to be so clear and trusting of your decision that it really doesn’t matter how the person receives it. You can even preface the conversation with something along the lines of “I want to fill you in on my choices, however I would appreciate if you kept any opposing feedback or input about it to yourself in order to keep things simple. I have already made my choice, I just want to share it with you so that there is no confusion when the time comes.” This is not rude, it is loving (of yourself and the other person). Sometimes we don’t get what we want! That is a very healthy part of life. We don’t need to try and give everyone what they want. We will never please everyone, so we must focus on pleasing the person we have to live with forever: ourselves. Trust that when you have made your decision, it is for the highest good, and let go of anything else.
- Offer Other Ways That The Person Can Be Involved. After telling your loved one(s) your decision, offer other ways to help and be involved that don’t include being present during your delivery! Your sister may be bummed that you don’t want her in the delivery room, but maybe she would be super happy to help you prepare meals, do some laundry and care for the new addition when baby comes home! There are so many ways that people can be involved in bringing your child into the world that don’t involve being present at the birth. Offer to have your mother organize a photo album of your pregnancy and birthing photos to share with you and other loved ones, ask your beloved Aunt if she would like to help sew a quilt for the baby… GET CREATIVE! It may be disappointing for some people to learn that your personal plans for labor and birth don’t include them, but you can “cushion the blow” with alternatives. People love alternatives! People really just want to feel like they are a part of something, to feel like they are helping and contributing in a supportive way, so give them ways to do that!
As for the medical team, all facilities will have protocols they must maintain and may be hesitant to changes. However, you can choose where you labor, so do your research and choose the place that feels most in sync with your goals! You can also choose to share in your birth plan that you would like minimal disruptions, and people in your room. If at any point you need someone to leave, you (or partner, or doula) can ask them nicely to give you privacy. Some people may scoff at you, but again, you simply remind them that this is YOUR birthing experience, not theirs. Unless there is an urgent medical need to be tended to, there is no reason that you should not be able to have the space you need to labor peacefully.
Let’s review more in depth WHY would you want to be selective about your birth team. Well, because you don’t want anything to interfere with your birthing process. The more people, the more input; energetically and physically. 99 percent of American women give birth in a hospital and experience an average of 6 strange people (people she has never seen or met) during her labor. That’s six chances to be alarmed, feel on guard or even invaded, and six chances to slow or stall your labor due to (often subconscious) unexpected discomfort. If you have the possibility to see strange people during your labor, you want to ensure the faces you do know are ones that provide comfort, security, safety, love, support, and respect for your labor and birth experience. Your doula and your partner and other support people you have chosen will help you to maintain your birth goals. Let them know your choices so that they can help you enforce them should you be in the middle of a rush (contraction) and unable to speak up yourself.
There you have it, my dear friends! Now go forth and OWN your ideal birth experience! Be clear and confident, and trust in yourself to choose what is best for you and your baby.
If you would like to learn more about how to have a wonderful birthing experience, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the contact page to send me a message and subscribe to Birth Purpose for updates, events and fun tips for Mama’s and Families! What have you found to be helpful in choosing your ideal birth team? How did “strange” faces or interventions affect your labor process? Please share experience and tips in the comments below!
“Let my monkey do it?….What in the….?!” That’s right, this post is not for the faint of heart. It’s about real, natural childbirth based off of a teaching Ina May Gaskin shares in her renowned book “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth”. The pages of this must-have handbook detail the many ways to achieve a healthy, happy, natural childbirth and why you would want to (including INCREDIBLE, REAL birth stories that will inspire the baby out of you!) . Ina and her midwife sister’s at The Farm (a wonderful community in rural Tennessee) have maintained a cesarean section rate of less than 2 percent, 96.8 percent successful VBAC (Vagina Birth After Cesarean) rate, and only .04% vacuum delivery and .37% forceps assisted deliveries for over 40 years. They must be doing some things right in the name of a wonderful, natural birth experience! So, let’s look at the technique of “Letting Your Monkey Do It” for some simple, applicable tips to enjoying your birth experience.
6 Ways To “Let Your Monkey Do It”
- MOAN & GROAN LIKE YOU MEAN IT: Many women get the urge to make noises to help them through their rushes (contractions– we will talk about the importance of terminology in another post), and with good reason! The throat and mouth are connected to the cervix, and if they are open and relaxed, you better bet that your bottom side is, too! Monkey’s and other animals do not concern themselves with how loud, weird or “ugly” they sound during labor, and neither should you! Your naturally inclined sound effects actually help your labor along, and make you more comfortable. (When allowing noises through your body, remember to keep them low and open, almost like a cows “moo”. To experiment with why, scream or try to make a higher moaning sound and notice the tightening that takes place in your throat and body– it doesn’t feel open or easy. Now try low, deep and full moans– similar to ones you make while you’re making a baby ;)– and notice how open, free and loose your throat and body feel. The difference is important and has a huge impact. Be mindful to keep those low-tones throughout labor. Ask your doula and partner to help remind you if you forget!). Moan and groan like your baby depends on it, because she does! The better your labor is for you, the better it is for baby as well
- MOVE, DANCE, SHAKE: Movement is another extremely helpful labor technique. Gone are the days of women birthing only on their backs, confined to the bed. (This varies in each State, so check for local hospital and birthing center options that allow mama to get up.) Trying to sit still during labor makes it much more difficult! First of all, moving is a mild distraction from the pain– focusing your mind on more than the intense sensations of labor; second of all, it actually helps the process and allows your body and your baby to make better progress. Mama monkey moves, and grooves and finds a natural rhythm with each contraction. We can find power in this too! Although painful, we can find rhythm with our rushes including movement, noises and more, and with the rhythm we step away from our thinking mind into a surrendered space of allowing, helping to open and work with our body to bring baby to us.
- DON’T WORRY ABOUT WHAT YOU “LOOK LIKE”: Monkey’s are certainly not thinking about their self-image while in the throws of childbirth (or ever), and we can learn from this care-free way of being! Your pubes don’t need to be perfectly arranged, your hair doesn’t need to be fixed, and you don’t need to make sure your face doesn’t look funny. Childbirth is not glamorous, it is powerful. Bringing a life through your body requires no specific physical appearance at all. Often in our society, we as women feel pressure to look “perfect”, this obviously carries over into labor and birth. We want to “look good” because we believe other people care and we believe that what other people think matters– it doesn’t. Especially not during the birth of your baby. Take the pressure off of yourself, at the very least during childbirth, and accept yourself as you are. Maybe you went into labor before you got that bikini wax, or your contractions became heavy very quickly so putting on make-up and doing your hair was out of the question, so what. Your mission is to have a baby, not to have the world’s “cutest” childbirth! This may be difficult if you are used to a certain appearance, but I invite the chimp in you to come forth and OWN IT, whatever you “look like”! Trust me, no one in the birthing room is going to think anything except that you are a magical, powerful goddess! There may not be glamour, but there is absolute awe over the power to bring life forth during every birth– no matter what it looks like. Let go of your critical self, and let your powerful goddess, messy hair and all, shine forth as you and baby work together to bring her home!
- MONKEY’S POOP (AND PEE AND FART AND PUKE) AND SO DO WOMEN: Many women I have met and worked with have a similar fear: pooping during labor. I attribute this (again) to our societies theme of pretending women are robots that always look perfect, never have bad days, and don’t have normal functioning human bodies with elimination systems. All of that aside, sh*t happens! Pun intended. Sometimes during childbirth you poop. Sometimes that big belch you were holding in was just the release baby needed to slide down into the birth canal. Sometimes you puke or pee or fart, sometimes all of the above! Okay, so what would a monkey do? Nothing. She would have her baby. If you have convinced your partner that you never poop or pass gas, great job! But labor is not a time to worry about upholding that “ideal”. If you do poop or get sick, your team will swiftly clean it up, and it’s likely you and others present won’t even notice it happened. Again, childbirth is not “pretty”, it is RAW, REAL and HONEST! Your partner won’t remember any poop or farts when they reflect on the fact that YOU BROUGHT A LIFE INTO THIS WORLD THROUGH YOUR BODY! Trust me, they aren’t holding onto the memory of anything that slipped out of your rear, they are holding onto the memory of YOUR BABY coming into the world! And the birth team? They experience birth FOR A LIVING. They are concerned with a happy, healthy mother and baby; the most they care about your bodily fluids, releases and excretions is making sure things are cleaned up swiftly to prevent any risk of infection or discomfort. If you are worried about anything, you risk the chance of slowing your labor by thinking too much/remaining too “in your head”, so make it easier on yourself and baby by letting go of the really small stuff, like poop.
- KEEP IT SIMPLE: Most animals retreat and find a quiet place to labor and give birth. With out distractions or interruptions, the labor goes more smoothly. We can follow suit by doing the same! Having your entire family nervously chatting in your labor room will certainly not provide assistance to relaxation. Even if your mother-in-law and sister “have” to be there–it’s not about them. Create boundaries about who and how often people can enter your sacred birthing space. Let those you want involved know your goals and make it clear that if you find having them there to be an issue of any kind, that you may ask them to leave. This is not personal to them, it is simply important for you to be relaxed in order for you to have your baby, and they should be understanding of this. (If they are not, don’t deal with it during labor.) Your labor and birth is not about anyone else, but You and Baby. Do not aim to please ANYONE (ever, but especially) during your birthing experience. Also keep in mind that more isn’t always better. Do your best to keep a simple atmosphere with minimal distractions and include this in your birth plan so that your team knows how to respect these boundaries. If anyone tries to convince you to do things differently than you want to, remind them that it is your birth and your baby. (Make sure to let your partner and/or team know your feelings before labor so they can speak up for you if it is not possible for you to due to the intensity of labor.) You don’t need to think about anything else except for relaxing and allowing baby to come through you. So keep it simple, retreat and enjoy a peaceful birthing environment tailored to your specific needs.
- SURRENDER TO YOUR BABY AND YOUR BODY: The number one key to an easier childbirth is surrender. Animals don’t have a thinking mind, so this is easy for them. However, we as humans experience our thinking mind all of the time, birth included! We can’t necessarily “stop thinking”, but we can surrender the thoughts we think. Oftentimes a mothers labor slows or stalls completely due to a psychological block caused by active or subconscious thoughts. This is why I created my Doula program to extend into the many emotional and psychological aspects of labor and birth as well. Including reflection over concerns, history of your life/relationships/experiences, and bringing forth all of the thoughts or worries that may come up during labor, before labor begins. Ina May expresses the power of the subconscious in her book, retelling the story of a mother having a difficult labor being asked “is there anything on your mind?”. Once the question was expressed, the woman immediately opened up about a fear she was experiencing, and upon doing so, relaxed and progressed quickly from that point. We needn’t be afraid of any of our thoughts, and if we become aware of them and choose to let them go, they hold no power over us. We are not our thoughts, we don’t have to attach to any thought. We can simply let thoughts be. We do this often subconsciously; when we have a thought we deem “silly” we are able to immediately let it float by and move on. So, we can do it consciously as well. Choose to surrender all of your (distracting) thoughts, concerns, fears, expectations, “likes/dislikes”, and everything you want to “control”, and you will find your labor and birth taking place (often a lot more easily than when we were thinking about it) whether you’re thinking about it or not ;). Yes, labor (and being a mother) is intense, however we have been created to birth (and mother!), and our body and our baby know exactly what to do. So, TRUST that! Surrender the process of birth and unleash the natural, powerful flow that takes place when we LET IT GO.
There you have it! If you take nothing else to your birth, make sure you bring your monkey! Give her a name if you want, let her loose and allow your birth to be a naturally wondrous experience. You owe it to your baby and yourself to surrender into a wonderful birth.
How do you “Let Your Monkey Do It”? Please share your own helpful tips and stories, questions and comments in the space below! If you are interested in learning more about how to surrender and experience a purposeful, natural childbirth please contact me at email@example.com for more information. I would love to help you meet your inner monkey and learn the keys to a more enjoyable birth experience, and beyond!