Sacred Life, Sacred Birth ~ The First Hour after Birth
Whenever I think about sharing what I know with expectant mamas, the word ‘empowerment’ is the first thing that comes into my mind. Why? Well, over the years, and decades, we have seen the persistent dis-empowerment of women at birth. We women have ‘given away’ our power and it has been ‘taken over’ by medical authorities who ‘know better’. Why do we do this? We do this because it is new terrain for women and men who are first time parents, and we have come, as a culture, to trust our doctor/midwife more than we trust ourselves. We do it because we are afraid, for our lives and the lives of our babies. We hear far more negative stories about birth than we do positive. So of course we want the best possible outcome for everyone involv ed, but when we see this power given over, time and time again, less than ideal birth scenarios ensue. If we can stand in an empowered place prenatally, then we will feel empowered during the birth and directly after.
It wasn’t until I was preparing to have my second baby in a hospital that I realized all the things I could say ‘no’ to in the hospital setting. I credit my doula, in large part, for empowering me by showing me numerous birth plans of her past clients. I fashioned my birth plan after reading all of them and came up with a plan that contained reasonable requests that were specific to our family and beliefs. I gave one to my doula, one to my midwife and made 5 copies for the nurses and attached them to a big basket of goodies that we brought to the hospital on the birth day.
In order to have a truly sacred birth, the hour immediately after is incredibly important. Here’s what most people don’t realize: you get to decide what happens with your baby – unless there is an emergency situation, and more often than not, birth is not an emergency. You don’t want a Vitamin K shot put into their foot upon arrival, because you are not circumcising if it’s a boy, that’s fine. You don’t want eye ointment smeared in their eyes to ward off any bacteria causing problems later, that’s fine (a little breast milk will do the trick). You don’t want the cord cut until the placenta has been delivered? No problem. You don’t want baby taken away from you directly after being born? You can request this. Learn your rights and speak up about them long before your child’s birth day.
In some cultures, women and family sing to their baby as they are being born. My husband made up a song called ‘World of Love’ for our first child and sang it to him upon his arrival. You may want to speak a prayer to your baby upon his/her arrival; a blessing to welcome he or she. Perhaps you would like a certain song playing as you give birth. If your labor was long or if your baby is crying a great deal upon arrival, you may want to speak softly to your baby and let them know you understand the tough journey they’ve had in getting here.
Postpartum empowerment in a hospital means knowing your rights, knowing hospital policies and protocols and working within them. Once you know your rights you can speak up for them, in a birth plan, and directly with your caregivers. You, your family, and your baby deserve nothing less.
Stephanie Dawn, ALSP is a Sacred Birth Coach empowering mamas, papas and birth professionals in Los Angeles and around the world. She is the founder of Sacred Birth Work ~ Childbirth Preparation for the Heart, Mind and Spirit. Contact Stephanie for a complimentary consultation by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or go to http://www.stephaniedawn.com/.