As a doula, I listen to a lot of pregnancy and birth stories. While some people can speak in great detail about every single thing that happened, most can't. What almost every person can remember though is how people made them feel - especially during their birth.
The language that surrounds your pregnancy lays the foundation for your birth, and eventually your confidence as a new parent. If through out the 9 months your head is being filled with doubt with the abilities of your body and the choices you have made, then it may affect the belief you have in your ability to birth and to make the best choices for your family.
I recently received this awesome t-shirt (below) from Evidence Based Birth, a terrific resource for all things birth related! It says "Babies are not Pizzas. They are born, not delivered!" I instantly clicked purchase! By saying your doctor delivered your baby, it removes yourself from the equation. Your doctor did not deliver your baby. They caught it as it was coming out. You did all the work! You are the one who growing a baby in your body for 9ish months. You are the one who goes through all the contractions. You are the one who uses your power to push your baby out. You did it. You birthed your baby. No one delivered your baby.
Here are a few more examples that you may have heard during your pregnancy, birth and postpartum,:
Many of the above mentioned comments are ones that are very commonly said to pregnant people. While it is usually not said with any ill intention, it doesn't take away from the fact that these words plant seeds in your mind which can affect you and the belief in your body's ability to grow and birth a baby.
Birth is a really careful dance of hormones. The atmosphere surrounding the birth needs to feel calm, comforting and safe - and that includes the people who are present at the birth. One of my biggest jobs as a doula during a birth is trying to keep the language in the birthing room positive and encouraging. If all you hear during your birth is "it is taking too long", "you really should just take the meds", "you can't do that" then it will be really hard to stay focused and to produce that oxytocin hormone that you need to birth your baby! This is one of the reasons why you really need to put in real thought to who you want to be at your birth and this is just one of the many benefits you get from hiring a doula to support you. The words that will be coming from our mouths are more like "you are doing it", "you are strong", "you are safe" - because the truth is, you ARE doing it, you ARE strong and you ARE safe.
Once the baby is born you will then hear advice from pretty much everyone - even including some random old man at the grocery store. There are so many choices in parenting and just like in birth, one size does not fit all. You need to find the right way for your unique family. And again like in birth, you should try to surround yourself with people you trust and will give you the support and positivity you need. This can come from friends or family, or through the services of a postpartum doula. Your doula's main focus is making sure you connect with your baby, your partner and with yourself. They provide you with evidence based information and do not judge you for your choices, but encourage you to make the choice that is best for you.
So the next time you see a pregnant person or a new parent - watch your words! They matter.
Samantha Garcia Gagnon is a birth worker in Pitt Meadows, British Columbia. She has a special focus on supporting physiologic home births and shares her years of experience and knowledge in this blog.
Proudly supporting home birthing families in Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge, Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam. Port Moody, Langley,
Surrey and New Westminster.
Filled with gratitude to be living and working in the unceded and ancestral home of the Katzie, Kwikwetlem, Matsqui, Kwantlen, and
Semiahmoo First Nations.