If we look to Hollywood to learn about birth, we are led to believe that pregnancy, birth and the newborn months are naturally wrought with challenge, fear, great effort, danger and dire need for institution-based strategy. We see image after image of bright lights, sterile examination rooms, screaming sweat-drenched women locked into stirrups, isles and isles of babies in plastic boxes under bright lights with pink or blue caps, frazzled postpartum mommies with screaming babies. We have been painted a lie, and sadly we repaint it for ourselves as a culture dominantly divorced from the intimate, harmonious nature of becoming a mother.
Naturally, Hollywood did not invent this portrayal. Birth has long been out of most mothers’ hands and left to the professionals. Chicken. Egg. Chicken.
As a mother, I am deeply moved by how the entire world is affected by how we birth. Mothers are affected. Babies are affected. Babies grow into children grow into adults. We are all affected.
Our personal and evolutionary dilemma
How are we affected? As a species, we are actually seeing a reduced ability to give birth naturally. We are also seeing a diminished ability to empathize. Interestingly, both of these factors for health and well-being are connected to our oxytocin production, the mother's during labor and the rest of us in relationship with each other. The connection comes at the critical entrainment opportunity of every human being: birth. At birth, if all goes truly naturally and our mother's body releases the optimal flow of oxytocin through her body and ours, our brains are flooded with real oxytocin and we are set up to release this effectively ourselves as we move through the world, and certainly as we then give birth ourselves. What we are seeing over time is that through the diminished production of oxytocin in the birth process (the use of synthetic oxytocin, i.e. Pitocin is named the key culprit, though scheduled cesarean births and pseudo-natural birth environments are also big contributors), we are evolutionarily losing our ability to produce it. Use it or lose it, basically.
You can read a basic overview on the research that reflects this and follow more links of interest here: Women Are Losing the Capacity to Give Birth
What this means for you
How this relates to choosing a birth team is simple: By choosing a birth support team which will empower you fully to have a truly biological, oxytocin-rich birth, you raise your chances substantially for a more easeful, less painful, quicker, safer birth. You will thus ensure that your baby's sweet brain is flooded with all the oxytocin it was meant to receive. Your own flooded oxytocin-rich self will find it more instantly connected to your child and all people, and even breastfeeding will be easier (did you know that oxytocin is pivotal in the let -down response?). Of course, you will also be contributing to our evolution as a birthing species that possesses the ability to empathize with each other (i.e. love and live harmoniously).
Here is the must-read primer on what is needed to help ensure your truly biological, oxytocin-rich birth: What a Mother Needs Most During Birth May Surprise You
Ask the women in your life
After you've read that primer, my strong recommendation is to follow your womanly chat instincts to find and assemble your ideal team. There are abundant links I could give to doula registries and midwife feedback sites, etc. However, I believe there is nothing more powerful in this, the most powerful time of your life, than to connect more deeply with your direct community from zero. Let the women in your life feed in to your search. It will bless you, even if you do nothing any one of them suggests.
Guide the search conversations
Ask around and find mothers who enjoyed their birth experience, and felt fully supported. Who was on their team? What were the things they wished they'd done differently? See if something arises from here to follow, such as a contact for a well-respected midwife or doula. Did anyone you know need extra support for breastfeeding and who gave them this? Get in touch. The love trifecta of birthing is the midwife, doula and lactation consultant. When you hit your jackpot of deeply supportive birth resource in your area, you'll find that these women know a lot about each other and how the others work. Look for a cooperative, supportive vibe from those being referred to and those doing the referring. Take it all in, then let it rest. Your heart will know who is best to keep the conversation going with.
Take to Face to meet more local mothers
This general direction applies to your search if you don't turn up any solid leads in your friend pool. If this is the case, take to Facebook. My go-to resource for any mama-centered and baby-loving motherhood advice is your local babywearing group. It is often the case that the mothers, who are most keen on gathering in this way, honoring together a baby and mother's need for closeness through babywearing and community, will be very open and supportive about local birth resources. Reach out to any one of the members, or join the group and post your desire to connect on the group wall. You will have amble invites to talk, I promise. Some of those mothers will even be doulas, midwives and lactation consultants. It's just the groove we're in: love, oxytocin-style.
I wish you a peaceful, love-filled birth and postpartum.