The Natural Birth Traps: Sneaky Things That Derail Your Birth (Part 2)
Did you know that the very things you've been taught to do when planning a natural birth will set you up to fail? If you already read Part 1 of this series then you know that there are common practices and beliefs about birth that will lead to your confidence being undermined.
These are the beliefs, attitudes, cultural expectations, misconceptions and medical practices that are so routine in maternity care and our birth culture that you don't think twice about them.
They're the things you see most often in the mom groups and in mainstream childbirth education that are leading you right down the exact path you don't want: the path to a cesarean, induction, episiotomy, forceps delivery, or simply a birth where you lose all control and things happen to you that you didn't ask for, didn't want, and might not have even agreed to if you'd known the risks and that you had other options.
In other words, these are the things that seem obvious in hindsight as you learn how birth really works and your own psychological and emotional needs during labor, but they aren't easy to spot beforehand because it seems like it's just "normal" and "to be expected."
You can watch the next 5 here and then read more about how I came to discover these Natural Birth Traps below.
So, how did I figure this out and how can you avoid falling into these traps and the many, many others that are so common in our birth culture?
First, let me tell you a story:
After my midwife told me that my baby was "too small" for dates, I panicked! I had been told that I had "risked out" of having a homebirth, and because I had no idea of the political game that was being played out in maternity care and the power struggle that my midwives were dealing with in terms of what the hospital and health authority deemed "risky" vs what was actually a legitimate complication, I did everything I could to avoid the dreaded induction they were suggesting.
I would cry so often in frustration and feel a very real and intense sense of dread and fear that there really was "something wrong" because my not-yet-born baby wasn't following the growth curve. Of course I hadn't known that 40 weeks wasn't an expiration date and that he would just need that extra time to catch up.
I was determined to go into labor on my own, so I did all the things starting at 37 weeks to get things moving. What wound up happening was that I would have a day or two of contractions and think I was in labor, but then things would fizzle out.
I spent the last weeks of my pregnancy walking, bouncing on my yoga ball, and even having sex despite not really being in the mood for it. My body was telling me to rest, but I wasn't listening.
So as a result I had a lot of practice contractions, but no baby. I then got fed up and decided I wasn't going to pay attention anymore until things got really intense. That happened when I was 40 weeks and 5 days into that pregnancy, and then the next night I had my son in my arms.
But if you think I learned my lesson about relaxing and not trying to do all the things, you would be wrong. In fact, I repeated this same pattern with my second baby.
You see, after getting tricked out of my homebirth the first time I was determined that wouldn't happen again. The problem was that I also knew that there were restrictions in our maternity care system and people would expect me to go into labor faster and more efficiently as a second time mom (I'll talk about that in future posts).
So when I had those few cramps start up at 37 weeks, I immediately tried to get things going. After 12 hours labor stopped. This then led to WEEKS of prodromal labor, where I would think "this is it" only to be frustrated hours later when the contractions fizzled out again.
This continued until my due date. I wound up sleeping for 3 days and missing my son's second Easter because I was just so tired physically and emotionally.
I went into labor at exactly 40 weeks, but I wouldn't have my daughter in my arms until almost 3 days later. This is because as soon as I hit 4cm and had consistent contractions I was "on the clock" and I had called the midwife. This led to her trying to assess my progress through vaginal exams I hadn't wanted, but I was so frustrated that I thought it would mean something.
It turns out that dilation can reverse itself...even if you hit 6cm! In fact, after one painful cervix check my labor stopped completely and my cervix closed right back up to 3cm!
I had to make a decision that night: Keep going as I was, or send the midwife and doula home and get some sleep. I thankfully chose the second option.
The next night I went back into labor and didn't call the midwife until my daughter was crowning and birth was inevitable.
It was in experiencing this birth that I realized that there were other things that we try to do to "get things going" that can actually undermine our confidence and lead us to agreeing to the very tests and exams we said we didn't want to have.
This lack of confidence, which was partly due to some real misconceptions I had about the stages of labor and the way we have been taught to handle them, is what almost had me giving up on my homebirth for the second time. I had been so devastated that morning when I woke up after that night of "false" labor and I'd felt like nobody would support me if I chose to stay home. I had to dig deep into my own psyche and really examine those fears so that I could release them and keep going, and in the end that's what allowed me to have the most amazing homebirth AND create the system that would become the very foundation of everything I teach today!
That's what led to me discovering some secrets in how to get the birth I wanted and create the 5 Pillars of Empowered Birth, which you can learn more about if you grab my ebook Your Empowered Birth below.
In this book you will learn the entire Empowered Birth System and how you can use it to get your dream birth experience and avoid the biggest traps when it comes to planning a natural birth.
You'll be able to avoid crumbling under the pressure of an OB or midwife who is pushing for you to have a vaginal exam (even though you now know that your cervix is not a crystal ball).
You won't feel like you have to get into labor by your due date, which will allow you to rest as you need to and just not worry about it. You won't get tricked into inducing just because you hit someone else's arbitrary timeline. You also won't give in to the pressure to have a membrane sweep, and you won't exhaust yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally trying to do "all the things" to make your labor go faster just to avoid your care provider pushing interventions you don't want or need.
You also won't hire anyone who doesn't fully support you and believe in your ability to birth your baby in your own time, in your own way.
The best part about using this system is that anyone can do it!
You can use this system to plan your birth even if you've been labelled "high risk", if you have a "small pelvis" or you have a high body mass index. You can use it even if you develop Gestational Diabetes.
You can use it even if you've already had one or more cesareans and this is your last attempt to actually experience natural birth, because you know you should be able to do it.
This system is the most versatile and multi-dimensional way to plan and get your birth your way, without having to fight any battles, beg for permission, convince anyone of the "evidence" for what you want, or compromise to make others feel more comfortable with your choices.
You will learn about my 5 Pillar System for Empowered Birth which includes:
The Right Mindset: How to get past your fears, create your vision of your ideal birth, and identify any old stories or misconceptions you absorbed from others that are holding you back from getting what you really want.
The Right Education: How to start asking the right questions when it comes to any information you are presented with, so that you can filter out what works for you and what you're planning for your birth and what is only going to talk you out of your dream and undermine your confidence in your body's ability to birth.
The Right Environment: How to determine where YOU will feel safest to birth, and how to create that environment that will support your ability to find additional resources and support for what you are working toward in planning your dream birth.
The Right Facilitators: How to choose the childbirth educator, care provider, and doula who will work for YOU rather than try to tell you how you need to think about things or push their own agenda and plans on you.
The Right Support: How to seek out those people who will support what you want to do and cheer you on, so that you no longer feel like you have to convince them or "educate" them, and you don't feel alone in how you want your birth to go.
Plus, when you get this book you will also have accesses to these bonuses:
This is the full list of 20 of the most common Natural Birth Traps that you can download onto your computer or even keep in a Google Drive and access from your mobile devices. It will serve as a quick reminder for both you and your partner on what you want to avoid as you get to the end of your pregnancy.
Forget the cookie-cutter lists of questions to interview a doula. They're full of generic information that doesn't really help you figure out what you really want or if this doula is even a good fit. I've compiled this list specifically because as a doula and childbirth educator I heard the frustrations of my friends in birth work who wished they had clients who were a much better fit for the kinds of services they most love to offer. By reading this short guide, you'll have a clearer idea of what to look for when setting up interviews with doulas and getting referrals, and you won't accidentally hire someone who is not able to fully support your birth vision.
In this quick guide you'll learn about my 5 step framework for asking the right questions and making decisions in your pregnancy and birth that align with what is most important to YOU, so that you don't fall for the common scare tactics that lead to being talked into inductions, cesareans, vaginal exams, or anything else you've decided you don't want. You'll also know how to weigh the true risks and benefits when something comes up in your pregnancy that puts you outside the very narrow view of what's "normal" (that doesn't exist in the first place).
There's a few other goodies I've included as well, but you'll have to get the book first to find out what they are! Just click here and you'll be taken to our sign up page where you can enter your name and email. Once you do that you will instantly receive your copy of Your Empowered Birth in your inbox and information on how to grab the rest of your bonus guides as well.
You're probably wondering why I would give all this away for free.
The truth is that this system is incredibly valuable and I could easily sell it for hundreds of dollars.
In fact, people pay me thousands of dollars per month for me to walk them through their own personalized Empowered Birth plan and support them as they work through their fears and learn how to communicate their wishes to their care provider, doula, and even their partner.
The problem is that this system works SO well that when women hear about it they want to work with me too...however I only have so much time in any given day. So in 2022 I set out to write the entire system out, step by step, so that if someone either couldn't afford my coaching packages or didn't have the time to sit down each week to meet with me on a call, they could still get the help they deserved.
Again, I could have put this behind a pay wall, but then it wouldn't be accessible to everyone AND this is something of which I am passionate about.
I got into birth advocacy and education because I saw the problems from both sides as a mother who fell into a lot of traps and as a birth worker listening to the stories of my colleagues who desperately want you to know how to read between the lines and see these traps.
I cannot tell you how many doulas have been traumatized by what they saw happen to their clients, of which the mothers had no idea just how they'd been tricked by the medical system. But as doulas we can't really interfere with your choices, and we can only present information and then cross our fingers that you pick up on the fine print and decline that vaginal exam or induction.
The problem is that often you don't see what we do, because as I said, these Natural Birth Traps are everywhere. That's why I finally got so tired of seeing you and other moms fall into them that I created this video series and accompanying guide to the 20 most common ones.
So what was the trap that surprised you the most in this video, and did you fall into any of these with your previous births?
Comment below and let's discuss!
If you like this video and any of the other ones on my blog then I invite you to like, share, and subscribe to my YouTube Channel so this information gets out there to more moms just like you who need it.