Laboring Over Labor? Don't
At some point during your pregnancy you will likely have a little anxiety about what labor and delivery will be like. That’s only natural.
Recently, one of my first-time preggers friends asked me, "Why do they call it labor?"
"Ummm, because it's hard work," I replied.
But then I thought about it. Yes, for many women, labor will be some of the hardest work you will ever do. But why do we call it labor? Nobody likes labor. There's a national holiday to avoid labor. And let's face it, nobody gets excited about hard work. Which made me wonder, could we change the language of labor to make it more positive?
Does using the word labor conjure up fear, pain and something to be dreaded or avoided at all costs?
What if we just called it birth? After all, it is what it is. Birth sounds less ominous, more forward looking. More something to be done, than something to be feared. Birth doesn't give off any preconceived notions about whether you will or will not enjoy the experience. And birth is more calming (I worry a lot about hard work!).
Back in the day, our foremothers birthed their babies in fields, at home and with midwives. That was the norm. But ever since giving birth became a "medical event" there's been a whole lot of fear thrown into the mix. A thinking from the medical profession that "you need us to do this right." When, in fact, our bodies know exactly what to do, and we only need a doctor in case of real problem.
Birth sounds like something you don't necessarily need some guy in green scrubs to help you out with. Labor sounds like you may need some back up. Let’s face it, labor is nothing to be taken lightly, while birth is something to be celebrated and appreciated on so many levels.
And more importantly, birth feels like you have a choice. And you do. You can choose what you'd like your birthing experience to be like. You can choose relaxation. You can even choose for it to be relatively pain-free. But when a woman chooses, she should choose from free will, not from fear of hard work.
And in the end, you can choose to call it whatever you want.
Nowadays, there are even more options to choose where you will deliver. Two of the most common options are birthing centers versus traditional hospitals. The main difference women tend to find between the two is the temperament and the overall environment. Unlike hospitals, birthing centers tend to have a more home-like feel to them; if you are interested in having more of your family members involved in the birthing process, birthing centers may be the place for you.
Although birthing centers may seem more comfortable and less stressful, be sure to check out what your insurance covers; some insurance policies are only hospital-friendly.
Whether you are birthing your precious little one in a hospital or at a birthing center, you should make a list of what’s most important for you when you embark upon your birthing or labor journey (whichever one you prefer to call it!).
Here are a few tips of how to have a less stressful birthing experience:
1. Be prepared: just like any other large project you would take on, research childbirth; read books, check out pregnancy websites, and if you have the time, sign up for childbirth class so that you can practice.
2. Ask a girlfriend to be there for the experience: many people find it helpful to have a friend who is a mother or their mom in the room during the process.
3. Stay (or get) active: yoga, gentle stretching, slow-dancing and walking are all ways to keep your body in motion and to get your body ready for the birthing experience.
4. Be flexible: childbirth rarely goes as planned, so practice being accepting of change and going with the flow of whatever may come your way.