Thursday, July 11, 2013

When life's milestones cost gagillions of dollars

I'm at that point in my life where it seems everyone around me is getting married or having babies. Biologically this is the end of the "prime" time, so it's really no surprise. But I find that many of us get tired of the rituals associated with these milestones. We have showers (usually several- both wedding and baby), bachelor and bachelorette parties, rehearsal dinners, and Stag and Doe's (the worst of them all).

Maybe that just applies to being in a bridal party. Because who really wants to spend a month's rent worth for a bride and groom just because you said you'd be a bridesmaid. It absolutely sucks. Not to mention the actual price of a wedding if you're the bride or groom.

Nowadays women are staying in school later, and therefore joining the workforce later. So how do you make it all work when you have no monies?

Seriously. I want to know.

But that's not my real beef today. I actually wanted to bring something to attention that often gets forgotten. We put so much effort into a wedding day, so why not give that kind of attention to your Birthing day? A wedding celebrates the beginning of a marriage, but the birth of your kid celebrates the beginning of their life and yours as a family.

I don't mean that so much in the financial sense, but in a symbolic sense. I believe a woman and her partner should be able to plan for their child's birth as you would plan for a wedding: as a special day in both of their lives. A wedding can be a huge production - in a materialistic show-y kind of way. A birthing day is a huge production in an organic human being sort of way. You seriously just produced a tiny human being and made your family 1 person bigger. That's a pretty big freaking deal!

It's one of my goals as a birth doula, to support mothers to make that day special, and not the dreaded account we see in movies and on TV. We've come so far in society to make giving birth a painful and uncomfortable situation. We joke around to pregnant mothers that "The pain's only going to get worse from here on out" and "You're practically going to be pushing a football through your lady parts." We tell them "Take the drugs! No one should have to go through that pain if you don't have to!"

Why do we build it up like it's the worst thing in the world? From what I've said above, it's like giving birth is equivalent to having all of your teeth pulled out. Who says it has to be that way? Why can't a woman be as comfortable as possible without having to get pain medication? Do you know how many tools we have at our disposal? How many relaxation techniques we have! I'm not saying that deep breathing is a pain killer, but it helps to tolerate the pain better. Stress can wreak havoc on our health, so why would it be any different when you're pregnant or are about to give birth?

What other species do you know gets hooked up to an IV, lies reclined and requires an epidural to give birth? Think of dogs! They have whole litters of puppies and no one gives a dog an epidural (I'm pretty sure anyways... that would be absurd.). There are certain circumstances where an epidural has it's place, but why not try to plan your pregnancy and birth to make it as special as a wedding day?

Have a plan, and have a back-up plan in case something medically concerning should happen. Make yourself comfortable. We all think that you have to go to the hospital to have a baby... but why? Something terrible isn't going to happen every time a woman gives birth. The Birth Doula who ran the workshop course this weekend said something that really hit the mark: give birth where you feel safe. A place that you can trust in. If you feel safer at home, give birth at home if you can. If you feel much safer going to a hospital, then go to the hospital. Either way, the point I want to make is to make sure you're comfortable. Bring things into the room that are comforting to you. Have music playing in the room if you like. Have people around you that make you feel safe. Remember and practice your relaxation techniques. Hire a birth doula! Know that you can ask questions. You are allowed to request the evidence that a certain medical intervention is best in your case. You are allowed to make decisions.

So you need help in making those big decisions? Ask about the risks, the benefits, and any alternatives. And lastly, please, please, please, don't put yourself in the mindset of a victim when it comes to having a baby. You are not a victim, you are a warrior and this is you and your partner's day. You deserve to experience childbirth in the way that you want. And it doesn't have to cost gagillions of dollars... though raising children in general usually does... 

Disclaimer: This is all within the limits of your health status. Any serious health risks may change your original birth plan, but your comfort and relaxation tools should always be available.