What does "Trust Your Body" and "The Body Knows" kinda language really mean?

Hi,

I'm somewhat new here and only recently started getting more into reading discussions. I have seen the movie/documentary and I like the idea of a 'natural' birth but at this point I still have a regular 'ol OB and plan to keep him, knowing he may or may not deliver my baby himself. I also would be very happy if I can go without meds...hope I don't have need for a C-section, etc. Natural sounds GREAT...but I'm not married to the idea.

Anyway, it seems that whenever I read information and pro-natural birth stuff I read things like "trust your body" and "the body knows how to birth" and stuff like that. I am not clear on what that means. I agree that the body of a woman more or less is programmed to make birth happen and there are hormones, processes, etc that work together in harmony to get the job done. But in my gut...I don't "trust" my body. All bodies are NOT perfect. Things go wrong...people get cancer, diabetes, lupus, etc. The human body sometimes (often) has flaws and sometimes doesn't do things as planned. So how far do you all take this notion of "trusting the body" as if it can not go wrong? I, personally, can only trust so much and tend to think that experienced nurses and docs can't be SOO FAR out in left field as to be 'dangerous' for the average delivery.

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Here's my take on it....I personally feel like the body is made to give birth(obviously), which means most of the time, you don't need to be induced, or pushed in your labor. Most of the time everything goes fine. Most of the time, if you are prepared, women handle the pains of labor fine. Most of the time women instinctively choose the right positions to give birth or help their labor along. Most of the time episiotomies are unnecessary.

Notice, though, that I say most of the time. I know there are some who advocate for absolutely no intervention or help at all, but personally, I don't. There are times when things go wrong, and it is nice to have someone who can help find that. There are times when an epidural or pitocin can help. As a nurse, I can tell you that some doctors and nurses do not feel like there is any problem with pushing the body or intervening for convenience. And this can cause problems. I have seen it cause problems. But this is why I love the idea of midwifery care...

The following is from Citizens for Midwifery:

The Midwives Model of Care
The Midwives Model of Care is based on the fact that pregnancy and birth are normal life processes.
The Midwives Model of Care includes:
Monitoring the physical, psychological, and social well-being of the mother throughout the childbearing cycle
Providing the mother with individualized education, counseling, and prenatal care, continuous hands-on assistance during labor and delivery, and postpartum support
Minimizing technological interventions
Identifying and referring women who require obstetrical attention

The application of this woman-centered model of care has been proven to reduce the incidence of birth injury, trauma, and cesarean section.
Copyright (c) 1996-2008, Midwifery Task Force, Inc., All Rights Reserved.

A great website to view when looking at these things is http://nursingbirth.wordpress.com/
Personally, I think it is a question of attitude. You say, "hope I don't have need for a C-section, etc. Natural sounds GREAT...but I'm not married to the idea" but I say, "why would I need a C-section?" After three kids I can honestly say that the option never crossed my mind - I just always knew that I would delivery them vaginally because that is how nature intended - why wouldn't it work that way for me? The same goes for breastfeeding. I always just knew that I would. It never occured to me to think "what if I can't," and I never had any problems or pain or cracked nipples - it just worked. Many times you can set yourself up for failure or success just by what you tell yourself.

I don't think drs and nurses who are paying attention are dangerous, but I think the kind that tell me I'm wrong when I know what is happening to my body could be. Once I was told my water had not really broken, that I imagined it and was sent home and then I walked around for two days leaking amniotic fluid... That's not good.
Nature intends a lot of things, but it is not in perfect control of every individual case. Nature has caused a lot of catastrophies too.

For a non-catastrophic example though, my friend had NO doubts she'd breastfeed. She had it all planned out. But her nipples turned out too small and flat (something she'd never even thought about or knew could be). So things didn't go like clockwork. She stuck to it and is able to breastfeed with one of those nipple shield things...but it's not the way 'nature' intended.

I want to do my best to avoid an epidural and meds and try my best to just deal with the pain...but that's what I can say NOW when I have no idea of what it will be like or how strong my psyche will be. I have a VERY low pain tolerance presently...I remember how bad my worst menstrual cramps were and how much at that time I swore I'd never have kids (I was probably 13/14 y.o. so what did I know!?).

I guess for me the lack of commitment to a natural birth ideology is the fact I DON'T know what my needs and babies needs will be come the time of labor. Things might go great! Things might not. I might just run out of steam. My baby might need intervention...I might need intervention. If I don't acknowledge that, then chances are I will feel like I failed if I don't end up having a 100% natural birth. Or I might fight for something that isn't in my best interest or my baby's best interest because I want things to go according to an idealized plan. I think that would be sad...so I have to prepare myself for all scenarios.

The reason I don't assume all will go perfectly is because I know it doesn't always. I know people who've had C-sections--not to take the easy way out but because things did NOT go as planned. In the heat of the moment when I'm in pain and things are taking a long time and the doc is worried about something I may have to make the choice (for whatever reason) between continuing labor as usual or pitocin or choosing a C-section or whatever. If the doc THINKS a C-section will be safer...I'm not sure on what basis I will be able to say NO. At that point if there is ANY risk to my baby if I hold off...I would NEVER forgive myself for doing "natural" based on ideology alone. There's no way for me to know everything about labor and medical necessity of interventions--I'm not trained in this. Yes my body is made to do this...but that doesn't mean everything will run according to a script. I also am afraid of going past 41 weeks. I don't trust all will be okay, regardless of others who have gone to 42 or 43. I will be ready to induce at that point.

I agree with what Rachel above said and believe that "MOST of the time..." things should be fine. But it's when things are questionable that I just don't want to be married to an ideology.
I just wanted to make a note about pain - I didn't know what to expect either. In the end, although labor does hurt, it is not the worst pain I could have imagined. I was able to breathe and move as I needed to for relief. And, since I didn't have an epi I was able to fully experience the flood of hormones - both pain relief and bonding - that happens immediately after birth - something, by the way, no one told me to expect and which helped convince me that natural is the best way to give birth (when it is possible, which is usually). I think that mental and physical preparation goes a long way in this.
Now, I was not induced, and I believe avoiding induction as much as possible goes a long way toward a manageable labor. So if you have an OB/Gyn with a high induction rate you may want to ask why that is and possibly find one (or a midwife) with a lower rate.
This is just one thing of many you can do to prepare for your birth. True, it may not turn out exactly as you planned, but not having a plan at all can greatly increase the likelihood that in the "heat of the moment" you will just go along with a care provider's idea which may or may not be the best for you or your baby.
Oh, one more thing, no matter where or with whom you deliver, you should consider hiring a doula, who will be your advocate in labor and delivery, and with whom, your chances of unnecessary intervention should decrease. Because, just because a procedure is offered, recommended, or hospital policy, does not mean that it is the best choice for you or your baby.

One more thing!
http://pushedbirth.com/
(Click "What is a Pushed Birth" and go from there!)
Thanks for that link...really found it useful! While a home birth is NOT gonna happen--I do NOT feel comfortable at all doing it at home. Just doesn't appeal to me at all. The natural process appeals...but not in my own home.

I'll speak with my OB some more about what I'd like in my hospital birth.
That's ok - you don't have to have a home birth to be successful. A while back Pushed Birth didn't have that first page up, so it didn't look like it was advocating strictly for home birth, but maybe it does now...at any rate, I'm glad you found the link helpful.
Please keep us posted!
I completely trust my body and know that it is well prepared for birth. After all, women have been giving birth since the beginning of time. I've always been connected to what I call my collective unconscious - the part of all humans that connects them to everyone who has ever lived - we all share some basic human experiences (birth, love, sex, pregnancy, etc.).

I trust that when labor comes and things get difficult that I can make my way through the pain by trusting my body and understanding all of the processes that are occurring within me (understanding that the pain has a purpose and going with it instead of fighting it).

I trust that my midwife will be monitoring me and the baby (and has been doing so throughout my pregnancy) and would refer me to an OB or transfer me to a hospital if something was going wrong.

I have an open enough mind to know that things don't always go as expected, and I trust my caregivers to make the right decisions regarding my health and the health of my baby. If I unexpectedly need to be transferred to the hospital, I'll be disappointed, but not overly upset because I'll know that the decision was made by people I trust (and that it was definitely for my own/my baby's welfare).

What I don't trust is that I would have a right to natural birth in a hospital with an OB, even if everything was going right. As a result, I'll be giving birth in a birth center, surrounded by family I love and people I trust.

Best of luck to you as you work through this question. It's difficult to wrap one's head around, especially when the vast majority of birth experiences people hear today are about what happens in a hospital, and a lot can go wrong in a hospital birth.

I would suggest you think about reading Birthing From Within, Ina May's Guide to Childbirth or Your Best Birth. All of these can give you insight into what it means to trust your body.
Can you please explain your fear of going past 41 weeks? Do you understand that your due date is an estimation that can be off by two weeks? Unless know the day that you conceived(and you may) then your due date is just a guess. There is also some studies that suggest the gestation varies among different ethnic groups. Here is one study done in England http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/33/1/107

I think that very often we are "sold" these fears, and when we do the research and look to find the basis of that fear, we find that their isn't one.

For example, I don't think anyone here believes that a c/section is a bad thing in a medical emergency. The problem in our health care system is that often a doctor will cry "emergency" at a situation that isn't really one. That's why you do your homework and ask your doctor things like "what is your cesarean rate?"
My understanding is that the placenta deteriorates after 41 weeks---or can. Also I'm pretty sure the 41 weeks is correct based on possible conception dates. Baby measured right on, my uterus measures right on. My mom delivered all three of us about 2 weeks early too....not sure if that ties in.
There is research to suggest that after 41 weeks, there are more complications. My view on that one....due dates can be wrong and I think for the most part women tend to deliver when it is right. I think getting NST's done and checking amniotic fluid, though, is not a bad idea. In fact, to me that is the best way of doing it. Not freaking out that your over due, but making sure baby is still ok.
What are NST's? I'm still new to a lot of the acronyms =)
Non stress tests:) Essentially your baby's heart rate is monitored for 20 m. If baby shows some periods where it's heart beat increases, then it is reactive...that is a very good sign that all is well. It may not seem like a big deal, but if your baby has these times of heart rate increases, studies have shown that he is 95% of the time in great shape.

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