how a book on natural childbirth changed my life

Monday, November 11, 2013

I once read a book on natural childbirth.

Back then I was carrying my first baby, and I was apprehensive about his entrance into the world.  I never intended to actually have a natural childbirth, but I wanted to understand more about what to expect during labor.  I picked up a book to learn more about what I was about to experience.  

That book changed my life.

Most women waste all of their energy fighting against pain, the book said.   When contractions begin, we tense up and brace against it.  We instinctively try to prevent anything that hurts.  Then we spend the moments between contractions - moments intended for rest - anticipating the next wave. The cycle of fighting and anticipating pain is exhausting.  We spend all of our energy trying to avoid labor, working against it, and we have nothing left for the hard work of actually producing a baby.  

We forget pain is natural.

Good, even.  Productive.  Pain means our baby is on his way, that the child for whom we have hoped and prepared for months is almost in our arms. When labor begins, we forget everything else.  In that excruciating moment, we don't think, we only feel.  We lose sight of the beautiful, miraculous reality pain is birthing into our lives.  

The key to a successful natural birth, the book said, was to stop fighting pain.

Accept it.  When contractions begin, relax your body.  However unnatural it may feel to do so, make a conscious decision not to fight what is happening to you.  Allow it, and remember a miracle is inching his way into your life.

I loved that advice.  As I labored with my first baby, I meditated on it.  Relax.  Relax.  Let it happen.  In this moment, pain is good.

I loved that advice, but I didn't fully comprehend it until recently.

I spent my first few years as a mother fighting against the discomforts of my role.  I lamented my lack of sleep, groaned about the relentless pace of caring for little ones.  Complained about the messes of potty training, wished for the kind of kids who never needed discipline.  Mothering has been the sweetest and most beautiful experience of my life, but every day I prayed for little escapes - a full night's sleep, please God! - from its difficulties.

I put all of my energy into fighting against the pain. 

When we moved across the country and started a new life, I took a different approach to mothering.  Though it felt unnatural in the moment, I focused on adjusting my expectations, and accepting the hard moments as a part of normal life with little kids.  The chaos, the noise, the messes, the fatigue.  I learned to just let it be.  Accept it, and allow life to unfold.

Just like the book said, that pain has a purpose.  It is producing something new in me.  Maybe all that time I was fighting against daily hardships, God wanted to use them.  I wanted God to end my struggle, but God wanted to change me through them.

When I accepted hardship rather than fighting against it, my life became more peaceful.  Those difficult moments are producing more love, patience, and grace in me.  And just as importantly, I am free from the anxiety of anticipating and trying to avoid a normal, natural part of life.

I read a book on natural childbirth, and it showed me the beauty of acceptance.  Only this time the miracle inching its way into my life is me.  God is widening my capacity for love, grace, and peace.

If I will only allow it to happen.


  1. Wow. Having just witnessed a natural childbirth, I was reminded of this lesson. But how quickly I forget as I fight against current hardships. Thank you for this beautiful reminder. I'm leaning in and breathing.

  2. Let it come, it's ok. Thank you!

  3. This is true, so true, so true...and in the midst of the struggle, may we have doulas and birth support to tell us it is normal, it will pass, and it's doing good things! Your post is sharing this. Thank you.

  4. I am a mom of two wonderful little boys and i got to say its a miracle. Natural childbirth has never been easy but it does help if you read books about natural birthing and join support groups. They will give you encourage and expel fears about childbirth. Here is a book that I have purchased as you can see and reviewed because i believe it poses good quality information for new moms.

  5. I read this yesterday and just haven't been able to get it off of my mind. I find myself here:
    "I spent my first few years as a mother fighting against the discomforts of my role." much more often than I'd like to admit. Thank you for sharing. I am challenged and encouraged to "adjust my expectations, and accept the hard moments as a part of normal life with little kids. The chaos, the noise, the messes, the fatigue." I want to learn to "just let it be. Accept it, and allow life to unfold."

  6. I've never birthed a child, but getting tattooed teaches me this lesson too. I remember when I got my first big tattoo I thought, "If he doesn't finish soon..." but I couldn't finish the thought. If he doesn't finish soon and take away this pain, then what? I'll die? No, this pain won't kill me. If he doesn't finish soon then I'll just be in pain longer. I can do that. Your lesson is a bit more life-giving (heh, literally) but learning that pain isn't something to be rushed through or avoided at all costs is a good lesson to learn. I don't have a baby to remember this lesson by but I do have a bunch of pretty tattoos that are the results of hours spent in pain.

    1. You know, when I got my tattoo I felt something similar. Not exactly the same, but similar, for sure. Tattoos tell something about who we are and what we love. The pain associated with my tattoo just felt, I don't know, right somehow.

      Thanks for commenting!

  7. Less than an hour ago, I was looking at Shon carrying our sleeping boy from the car to the apartment and thought to myself, "It's amazing how such beauty can come out of such pain" :)

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