Tearing and Giving Birth: a post about bodies and pushing

Updated: Apr 2


one story I will probably never forget:

During my last pregnancy, my son was six years old. Old enough to be more observant and curious about what was going on with my body.

Most of his questions were centered around the same topic: how does the baby come out? (Surprisingly he never wondered how the baby got there in the first place)

My parenting style is pretty straightforward and I feel strongly about teaching my kids normal body parts and functions. So we bought a book that illustrates and explains this topic in an age appropriate way (the book is It's not the Stork, in case anyone was curious. Not a sponsored post, I just felt this book was helpful, kid friendly and informative).

After learning more about birth, bodies and anatomy he simply looked and me and scoffed, “IT WON'T FIT MOM”

Haven't we all had this thought?

Most of us have absorbed a lifetime of fear-based messages surrounding labor and birth. We see and hear unrealistic representations in movies and tv: screaming, swearing, out of control behavior until the doctor walks in and saves the day. Maybe the word episiotomy is thrown out there...I know we have all heard the horror stories: pushing for hours and hours, severe tears and stuck babies, awful recoveries, pain and peeing your pants postpartum. All of these images and messages make an impression:

It won’t fit

It’s impossible

I can’t do it

It’s too scary

My body will be ruined forever

We doubt ourselves and our bodies.

Pregnant person, pushing on their side supported by partner
Pushing on your side is a great option and may reduce tearing

I get it. At a glance, the anatomy does look very small. In your logical brain you think “It won’t fit”. But trust yourself, bust the myths and know that your body is perfect and capable.

The truth is that birth works and our tissues are amazingly flexible and resilient. It may take some time, but bodies can stretch to accomodate our babies. I firmly believe that if we remove excess fear, pressure and give enough time and options, most people are able to birth their babies just fine.

Sometimes things go differently and there is a need for more medical intervention. I am grateful that is an option when. it. is. necessary. However, this is the exception and not the rule.

Pushing can take some time and that's ok. This is normal. There can be some benefit to this process. The longer time the baby is in the birth canal, the more gradually your body can stretch. There's a lot that you can do to make this process easier for yourself and baby.

When we are allowed to labor instinctively, using different movements and positions, we can help our babies find a good position and help our bodies stretch to accommodate the births of our babies. Yes, even bigger ones. The bones in your babies' head are meant to mold together and babies' bodies are squishy :) In both my experience and in the medical literature, we find that often times it is the position of the baby and the birthing person, not the size of the baby that can have the most impact.

A "bigger" baby does not predict the success/failure of a vaginal birth.

Pregnant person in kneeling position
Spending time upright can help your baby find a more optimal position for birth

If you feel worried about this, just know that you are not alone. It's a very normal feeling and a natural reaction to the fearful stereotypes we have in our culture surrounding birth. But just like you learned this fear, you can unlearn it.

You can take steps in your pregnancy to get some education and practice some positions and techniques which will help you. When I am working with families I like to spend a lot of time talking through this topic.

Looking for doula support in the Triangle Area? Ready to take the next step to an informed and confident birth? I can help you sort through your fears, normalize the process and learn some movements and positions which may help you have an easier birth. Reach out today!

*please also know that if your birth went differently that you wanted or imagined you are not a failure. Sometimes we weren't given enough time, sometimes we didn't have the right information or support, sometimes we were put on a clock and up against medical standards that don't reflect the reality of birthing bodies, sometimes that's just the ways things go and you made the best choice for yourself and your baby.

You are never to blame, you are never a failure and no matter how your birth happened, YOU. ARE. ENOUGH.

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