Control. Or Rather, losing control.
It is one of the biggest fears people have about birth. Images of dramatized screams and guttural moaning flash through imaginations. Everyone talks about the pain of childbirth but can't really describe it to anyone's satisfaction, and that gets linked with the Hollywood image of a noisy woman in labor.
Some share stories about the agony of being out of control while giving birth. Others seem to equate losing control with euphoria and giving oneself over to the birth process as the ultimate endorphin high.
Are you confused yet?
Is control good? Controlled breathing is emphasized as being both useful and necessary. No one wants you to hyperventilate, and it has incredible connections to pain management. So yes, control your breathing!
But also, being too in control may mean you can't detach from the external environment of the room, and that could lead to being tense and stressed, which then could inhibit labor from progressing. No one wants labor to stall! So don't be too in control of your room, body, or information.
An honest doctor shared with a client that everyone thinks they are the ones in control when walking into a labor and delivery room. But in reality, the only one in control is the baby. The comment got a little chuckle out of the room at the time, but here, finally, was a bit of information that made some sense about the inaccurate predictive nature that is childbirth.
The unknowns are limitless. And even when we know as much as we can possibly know, there are still surprises. And it is just this reason that doulas are gaining in popularity and hospitals are becoming more and more welcoming of skilled support people to help guide a person through birth.
For some, knowing when to express control and when to release it are instinctual. But having the encouragement to follow that instinct is what your doula will do for those in that position.
For others, their instincts cause more worry or more distress, and just the same, your doula will help navigate through those thoughts and feelings to space where focus can be centered around feeling and moving with contractions.
Some want to be told when to push and feel in control because counting gives a framework to follow. Or, some only want to push when the urge comes, an act that gives power back to the laboring person, and not to the person counting.
All this, and there isn't a wrong way to have your baby.
Labor is nuanced. Being in and out of control is nuanced. Working with medical providers is nuanced. Bringing a new human life into the world is nuanced! And how wonderful that it is!
Birth is not a phenomenon where we can express our control over it to reach the desired outcome.
But, if you are concerned about control, losing control, or the exchanges of power that happen back and forth all throughout labor, consider using a doula. While having a doula will not change the truth that your baby is the person in that room who dictates many of the decisions, having a doula will help you and your partner feel uniquely supported through the entire process. So instead of birth happening to you, it can simply happen.