It is International Birth Wisdom Week and I want to share something from The Pink Kit about inner voices during labor. The book says that many women have two voices present during labor–one is a supportive, “managing” voice and the other is a “negative” voice. The first voice gives guidance, makes suggestions, tells you what to do. The second voice perhaps tells you that things are horrible and you can’t do it. (I think many of us have these two voices present during everyday life as well, not just during birth!)
“Women who don’t find labour painful often relate that one voice says, ‘it’s not painful,’ while the other tells them what to do. Women who find labour extremely painful often related that one voice is constantly saying, ‘I don’t like this,’ ‘This is too much,’ ‘I can’t do it,’, etc. But their other voice can still be saying, ‘Keep breathing, ‘Relax,’ …’Now rest…'” Being aware of these inner voices gives you a tool to work with during labor. The Kit also notes that support people should remember these voices as well, saying that if you tell a laboring woman something like, “you’re doing so well!” while her negative inner voice is saying, “I can’t handle this” she might respond to you by saying, “Be quiet!”
Women’s behavior and ability to cope with labour is often a reflection of what those inner voices are saying…There is a mistaken belief that labour is ‘not good’ if the negative voice is big. Not true. The negative voice can be very big, while the manager voice still does The Work. Often the highlight for women is overcoming the obstacles the negative voice puts in the way of good birth…Take heart, many of us feel incredibly powerful after a birth experience that had a loud negative voice.
Reading this made me consider what my inner voices were telling me during my own birth experiences. With my first birth, I had a doubtful voice inside that worried that I was only two centimeters dilated and was going to the birth center too early. I also had a clear supportive voice that told me, “this is normal, your body is made to do this” over and over again. During my second birth, I had a very strong and supportive “manager” voice that “doula’ed” me through my labour. It told me things like, “be a clear open channel for birth” and “relax your legs” and “you’re okay, it’s okay” and “let go here.”
What did your inner voices tell you and how did you work with them?