The Power of Milk - DONA International

dona.org

The Power of Milk - DONA International

Feature StoryAppreciating the SlowerLabor—It’s Not a Race!By Marianne Donch, CD(DONA), CCESix couples sit in a circle withme; all of us a little nervous,filled with apprehension aswell as curiosity. It is thefirst meeting of a six-week childbirthpreparation class series and everyoneknows that individual introductions arenext. The first round of personal info toshare is kept very safe—names, due dates,choice of local doctors or midwives. ThenI prompt an open-ended question: “Howdo you envision your ideal birth to be?”It’s like casting a fly rod into the stockedkiddy pool: I always get at least one strike.“Fast—a fast labor would be nice!” Othersnod their heads in agreement. Whowouldn’t want a fast labor?I have wondered many times whenand why the birth process has becomea race in people’s minds. Most pregnantwomen hope for the blitz birth; and innew mothers’ circles you will invariablyhear some women proudly announcethe lightning speed of their labors, whileothers seek compassion for the long hoursthey endured endless contractions. Bothreinforce the culturally shared belief—fastis better than slow. Don’t we all share inthis ideal? Faster cars; faster service; fasterfast food. Faster is definitely better. It is soingrained in each one of us that we don’tstop to think about it.Well, my own 36 hour posterior labormade me stop to think about it. Thegreatest teacher in this experience wastime. It taught me patience, doing the bestI could with what I got, how strong I reallywas, responding to my baby’s needs andthe value of excellent support. All greatparenting lessons, yet I know that this typeof reflection is not meaningful to parentsexpecting their first baby. They do notcome to childbirth classes for a parentinglesson; they come for strategies to dealwith the challenges of labor.Fast labors are usually very challenging,contrary to popular belief. How can Icorrect the common misconception andinstill in pregnant parents an appreciationfor the slower labor? Here is a thoughtthat first-time parents can relate to easilyand that has effectively changed manyan attitude.Look at it this way: giving birth is a setamount of work for each woman. Theactual amount of work does not change,whether one has a fast or a slow labor.A fast labor only means that the work isdone in less time—it is not less work! Forexample, if a woman’s labor from start tofinish is six hours, she would have to workthree times harder than if her labor was 18hours. Suddenly 18 hours does not soundso daunting. It means longer breaks, moretime to adjust, the opportunity to pampermom with massage and music and more,often fewer requests for pain medication,possibly quiet time and intimate momentsfor the couple.Of course, no woman can choose herlabor. Provided that there are no medicalconditions, the task at hand is simply toappreciate and work with what is actuallyhappening instead of wishing, hoping,continued on page 22, bottomMost pregnant womenhope for the blitz birthwww.DONA.org 21

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