I’ll be honest, I never really understood Birthing from Within. I’d seen it recommended a million times over as the number-one-must-read-book-on-natural-childbirth, so it was actually the first one I checked out after I got my positive pregnancy test.
Then I opened it up and…I didn’t get it. It was very focused on visualization of the birth. My hopes for the birth, my vision of what it would feel like emotionally, that kind of thing. It had activities in each chapter that required me to draw pictures of what I felt about birth and that is so not me it’s not even funny.
I was that kid in daycare who, during arts and crafts time, did the bare minimum creative output required so I could go back to reading books or pretending to be a horse running through the field (don’t laugh, it was actually a lot of fun, and since I didn’t have a real horse it was the best I could do). I don’t really do drawing, my stick figures are so grotesque my four year old niece once remarked that she was proud of my good effort but that my drawing looked nothing like a human being.
For this book to expect me to express myself through drawing was laughable to begin with. But then it took it a step further by asking me to sit and spend time contemplating what my hopes for the birth were, and imagine how I might feel. How I visualized birth.
I’d never had a baby before, so for me to try to sit down and figure out how it might make me feel was completely unrealistic. I have a fantastic imagination, but this was pushing it. There’s no way I could have ever imagined reaching a point in my labor where time ceased to exist, where the gap between contractions would stretch for years, where I would cease to exist completely while the contraction hit me like a lightning strike. I had no way of conceptualizing the incredible feeling of pushing Aidan’s head out, when it felt like I was literally giving birth to a planet.
As a childbirth newb, I was looking for boots-on-the-ground information about what labor would be like, what to expect, how to prepare. This book was asking me to get in touch with the emotions surrounding birth, but I didn’t have any yet so I didn’t find it particularly helpful.
I discussed the book with one of my midwives once, and she nodded and said the book seemed most helpful to moms who had already had babies and were maybe recovering from a traumatic first birth experience. This makes sense to me. If my first birth had been traumatic, I could easily see wanting to sift through those emotions before embarking on my next labor adventure.