Birth without fear?

Parents and parents-to-be: Welcome to our annual Maternity Issue!

I’m so glad you’re reading this magazine. It’s filled with stories about the amazing phenomenon we call pregnancy as well as the miracle of birth. 

But to tell you the truth, I’m a bit conflicted about this issue, too. 

You wouldn’t believe how many stories we couldn’t fit into the magazine! So many local families shared their stories with me — and every single one was beautiful and unique. Alas, I had to choose just a few. (Don’t worry, the rest will be coming out in future issues.)

One that I chose was a remarkably thorough piece on home birth by postpartum doula and longtime Minnesota Parent writer Jen Wittes. 

In the article, Wittes quotes St. Paul-based birth photographer Raven Ivory about the single biggest influence on a person’s birth journey — fear.

“Fear has the ability to intensify all sensations, the ability to shut down labor. Think of a giraffe in labor on the savanna. If a lion approaches, the baby doesn’t just fall out. The introduction of fear is great enough to cease labor long enough for the giraffe to escape. For me, birthing where I felt safest was my main priority. And I felt safest at home, surrounded by the things and people I love.”

Yes! I love this comparison. And I love that we’re getting back to a time when we see birth as a natural process instead of a “medical emergency by default” as Ivory put it. 

And yet, I don’t want us to oversimplify all the emotions we might have around birth. Mantras like, “She thought she could, so she did,” can create unnecessary pressure and overly high expectations among parents. 

Choosing a place where you feel safe to birth might not take away all your fear. 

I follow a lot of birth centers and birth-oriented accounts on Instagram — such as Birth Without Fear and the Empowered Birth Project — and they are so informative and inspiring. They tell real stories and show vivid photos of what the birth and postpartum experiences are really like! 

And yet, they might not take away your fear. 

Labor is work. And it can be fairly painful work. Birth can be complicated. And it doesn’t always go exactly as planned. You might be afraid, even when you’ve done everything you can to get ready. 

The key is this: Don’t listen only to that fear. Don’t give fear a driver’s seat in your labor and delivery. Find strength in the fact that birth is natural. And you CAN do it, despite harboring doubts. You really can. 

In the end — like a wedding is to a marriage — your baby’s birth (or adoption!) will be just the beginning of something big, beautiful and life changing.

And we’ll be here to help you every step of the way.