Monday, September 26, 2016

Running from Mountain Lions

A few weeks ago, I found myself having a conversation with a woman who had had an unintentional natural birth. She was horrified by the experience. She couldn't understand why anyone would ever have a natural birth on purpose. I've spent some time pondering that conversation and I'd like to share my thoughts.

When I was pregnant with my first baby almost 21 years ago, I was terrified of birth. I took the "epidural class" and, fortuately, I gave birth not feeling a thing. What I hadn't planned for were those few hours of contractions before going to the hospital. I had ZERO coping tools. It was awful. I cried when I got to the hospital, not because I was in so much pain, but because I could finally have the drugs. I was dilated to a 3 and 90% effaced. I can't imagine doing the whole thing without drugs as ill-prepared as I was. 

With my second baby, I got educated. I prepared mentally, physically, and emotionally for the experience. I put a good birth team together and I was ready for the experience. I went in feeling confident, unlike my first birth where I would tense up with every contraction, scared of what was happening.

Let's use a little example. Stay with me. I've moved to the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota. The mountain lions are prevelant. A neighbor took this picture of prints she found in the morning near her house. We hear them at night. It sounds like a woman screaming in the forest. Really, it's terrifying.

Naturally, I've developed a fear of the mountain lions. What if I were hiking and one was lurking in the trees and pounced? What if I came upon a lion on the trail? What if I were chased by a mountain lion? I'm not sure I could run to my mailbox, let alone outrun a mountain lion! 

Education about these animals has helped ease my fear, but I still hope I never come upon one in the wild. 

What does this have to do with birth? Let's keep with this example of running. Running because you are afraid and are forced to run - if you stop you'll die - is a completely different experience than running because you trained for it. (Or so I've been told! In case you couldn't tell, I'm not a runner.)

Labor is still labor, birth is still birth, and running is still just running. It's the preparation that makes you feel differently about it. Fear versus confidence. It's the "why" you are doing it. Is it just to get through it, or are you enjoying the journey because you enjoyed the preparation? You know what to expect along the way. That alleviates so much of the fear. 

I've taken a year off of teaching childbirth classes (still busy training instructors though) as I've settled into my new home. If you are in the Black Hills region and want to prepare for your birth, let's talk! No one wants to have to outrun a mountain lion in their birth!

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