I've been pondering the reasons people choose to give birth naturally. There are as many different reasons as there are people making the decisions. Some of the most common reasons people give me are: healthier for the baby, healthier for the birthing person, desire to avoid a Cesarean birth, dislike of epidurals, desire to experience birth as a rite of passage, desire to be an active participant of birth, desire to birth in awareness, and a desire to give birth how God intended.
I'd like to focus on this last point during this post. Many of my clients are of the Christian faith. I, too, am a Christian. I don't market myself as a Christian doula, but I do live in Texas. Odds are, I will work with many clients who believe in God in some form or another. Being in one of the most diverse areas of Houston has allowed me to work with people of different backgrounds. I have enjoyed all of the families I have worked with and what they have taught me about themselves, birth, and life. I am happy to support all people, not just Christians.
I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Sometimes we are referred to as Mormons. Even though our church is known for its extensive missionary program, I do not advertise my religion during the course of my birth work. I am happy to talk about it if I am asked, but I won't otherwise.
I am sharing this information because it has been on my mind lately, and I felt it was time. Reading Donna's post and Marissa's post gave me the push I needed. Heh. Push. Get it? Birth joke?
Originally, I decided to pursue a natural birth because I was scared of the epidural. The thought of getting a huge needle stuck in my back terrified me. Many people tried to reassure me that the pain would be enough that I wouldn't care. I asked my friends all the time what giving birth was like and especially about the epidural. I was still under the impression that getting an epidural was required. I didn't know you were allowed to make your own choices in the hospital. I didn't know that birth centers or home births existed. I thought one day I would have to have my babies in the hospital and that I was required to have an epidural. I was terrified.
One day my husband mentioned that he didn't want me to have an epidural because he was afraid I would be the 1 in a million that would be paralyzed from it. By then, I had come to an acceptance of it and said, "When you are the one giving birth to the baby, then you get to decide." Funny how it still hadn't occurred to me that I had options! Not even after saying that.
Fast forward a few months, and I found out that I was pregnant with our first child. As luck would have it, I was working with a woman who happened to be a doula. She recommended great midwives. I took her childbirth class. I became enamored with the birth process. Preparing to give birth became a spiritual experience for me. I prayed a lot. I read positive birth stories. I had a great birth.
I left that first birth feeling closer to my Heavenly Father than I ever had before. I felt incredibly thankful that the birth had gone so well. I learned at one of my many trainings that people enter a deeper state of awareness called delta when they are giving birth. This state is also known as "courting the divine." Entering the depths of Labor Land has been three of the most profoundly spiritual experiences I have ever had. I have called upon Heavenly assistance while preparing for each and every birth.
After my second birth, I was able to review the book The Gift of Giving Life. I wished I'd had the opportunity to read it before the birth, but it made for a special journey during my postpartum period. That book is geared toward LDS women, and I was delighted to finally find a book that combined birth with my faith.
I have also enjoyed reading another book geared toward LDS women entitled The Sacred Gift of Childbirth. Reading this book was part of my journey of becoming a Sacred Gifts Doula.
I had such a quick birth with my third baby that he was born before the midwife arrived. I was terrified and began making my peace with God. I thought my baby and I were going to perish right there in my shower when my baby was between worlds. Heavenly Father sent an angel in the form of my doula at the exact moment I uttered my prayer, "Help me!" She placed her hand on my back and said, "I'm here." My fear of death immediately disappeared, and I focused on the work of giving birth to my baby.
I was full of gratitude to my doula, my husband, and to my Heavenly Father. I still think of my doula as my angel who saved my life.
I have never experienced giving birth in any other way than without pain medication. After my first natural birth and that incredible birth high, I was hooked. I couldn't imagine giving birth any other way unless it became medically necessary. I know that the way someone gives birth is a deeply personal choice, and it can be a profoundly spiritual experience no matter the mode of delivery. For me, however, my three natural births have given me the deepest spiritual experiences of my life.