“I have a proven pelvis”: The power of experience in labor, whether borrowed or our own

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On Monday night we gathered at Realbirth to kick off the New Year with our first 2010 informational meeting: Comfort Measures for Labor. For those of you joining us for the first time, welcome! Also, although we have a regular home at Realbirth for our informational meetings we don’t usually occupy the store area, so I want to thank you for being flexible and helping us be creative as we re-created the space. We had to adjust to the occasional wanderer passing through, but the evening still unfolded beautifully and was transformative for all of us. Through their labor/birth stories, our speakers, Sarah and Jen, shared the clarity that sometimes only experience can bring. We were also excited to have two experienced doulas on the panel, Eden Bertrang and Beth Donelly Caban, both of whom incidentally can claim the revered Midwifery Assistant Training program at The Farm as part of their varied backgrounds. Bertrang and Caban offered practical strategies for managing labor and also treated us to some hands-on demonstrations.

Mary Esther and Terry, our facilitators for the evening, opened up the discussion with a quick poll of the crowd to gauge how the room full of mothers perceived the intensity of labor. Some women had a previous pregnancy to relate to, some were preparing for the very first time. Asked to rate the intensity on a scale of 1-100, answers ranged from 75 to 110. Women also responded “it’s like running a marathon,” and “you may not think you have any more energy, but then you just find it.”

As a pregnant woman approaches the event of the birth, emotions about the laboring process can range anywhere from mild anxiety to absolute terror. No matter the degree of calm or uneasiness the new mother might be feeling, there is also bound to be a persisting curiosity about what to expect—particularly if this is the first time. No matter how you are envisioning your birth: in the labor and delivery room, at home, with an OB, surrounded by immediate family…the question of how to manage is very relevant. After all, even with all the support you may or may not desire, as the person actually giving birth, labor will be inherently intimate for you. It is important to have your own personal understanding of what to expect and how to cope with the process in those moments when desperation weighs heavily and you wonder how you will see it through. Well, who better to shed light on these profound moments than women who have been there and done it themselves, along with the doulas who supported them?

Our first speaker, Sarah, had a story which perfectly exemplifies… (continued on next page)

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