The following is a guest post from our friend Felicia, who is a doula. She runs the Facebook page Peaceful Baby Doula Service. She’s had SIX labors. ~ Elizabeth
Knowing Your Body in General
Having basic knowledge about your body, especially your reproductive system is extremely helpful in aiding you in conceiving, pregnancy, labor, birth, breastfeeding, and postpartum experience. Listening to your body, and the signs that it gives you to communicate what is going on, or what it needs, will help you to have a better birth.
Pregnancy is a very important time and taking the opportunity to get in touch with your body will help the next 42 weeks go by faster, and with ease. Educating yourself about the normal birth process, knowing that all women’s bodies are different (so some women take a longer time to grow a baby), and trusting that your body is NOT faulty are very important things that need to be known in order to have a satisfying birth.
During the period of trying to conceive, listening and paying attention to your body can make this period shorter and easier. Your body gives signs and you have symptoms of when the optimal time to conceive is. For more information about this, I recommend a really good book by Toni Weschler, Taking Charge Of Your Fertility.
Things like what your cervix is, what it feels like, normal complaints during pregnancy, and abnormal symptoms can all help ensure the future is more appeasing. Since your cervix plays a vital role in the birth of your baby, I find this is a very important aspect of the human body that is overlooked.
Most women rely on the doctor to tell them if their cervix is open, effaced, etc. — but they really don’t *understand* what this means, other than the day they are meeting baby is near. Most women don’t know that it’s ok to touch their OWN cervix and a doctor really never needs to check (but you can). Some are afraid they can hurt something trying to figure out their body, but since you are the one being touched, the likelihood of you hurting yourself is very minimal.
There is a higher chance of something going wrong with someone else (i.e., a doctor) having his hands in your vagina, because he doesn’t know what hurts, how hard to go, etc.
Knowing When to Ask For Help
Listening to your body can save you, on so many different levels. There are times when laboring women have listened to their bodies, and knowing that something was wrong sought out help-resulting in life-saving help for their selves, and their babies.