What If? Shifting the Dialogue of Birth

Sometimes at mother blessing ceremonies I share a modified version of a piece of writing by Leilah McCracken called, “Shifting the Paradigm of ‘What if?'” (I forget where I originally read it, perhaps in Hypnobabies?).

This is my re-working of McCracken’s words, with the addition of my own thoughts at the end:

Many of us think “What if?!” in fearful ways before giving birth: What if I need to transfer? What if the pain is awful? What if my uterus ruptures? What if the baby won’t come out? What if I lose control? and so on.

Let’s shift the internal dialogue and think “what if?!” in powerful ways: “What if I have the most beautiful experience of my life? What if I could actually feel a wet, moving baby on my belly—just after birth—and fall in love with that feeling forever? What if I give birth and feel pure exhilaration? What will happen if I give birth as a powerful, free woman—what will happen if I claim my right to give birth as my biology impels me to? What if I emerge victorious, free, and powerful? What if—what if my baby never feels anything in her first moments other than my body and my love? What if I push my baby out into my own hands, and pull her up, and kiss her wet head, and cry and moan and weep my joy in private, darkness and love—what if… what if this birth is the most loving, sweet and gentle moment of my life? What if I give birth with wild joy and courageous abandon? What if…

If I read this out loud to a woman, I substitute “you” for “I”—the “you” message puts her directly into that new framework of what if!

What if we become as powerful and wise as we are meant to be? What if we share our wisdom and our strength with other women? What if we act with courage and in solidarity with other women? What if we believe unshakably in the power of women to triumph and to act with courage? What if we expect birth to be beautiful? What if we trust that we can learn so much from each other? What if we trust women’s bodies and the wisdom of babies? What if we listen, really listen? What if we remember that she always has the right to define her own experience? What if we know in our hearts that all mothers love their babies? What if we act as though other women don’t need to be enlightened or “educated”? What if we believe she has the keys within herself to unlock her own steady power? We will change the way the world spins…

What if… the very future rests on our ability to engage with these what if’s?


Note: I then wrote a companion post about the flip side—the going ahead and thinking the “bad” what if’s—because I want to also acknowledge that there is power and value in experiencing and working through the so-called “negative” what if’s as well.

What if…she knows exactly what to do…

7 thoughts on “What If? Shifting the Dialogue of Birth

    • I actually like my revised version better 😉 And, I like the section I added (the second section)…but, it sparked a whole collection of “what if” thoughts from sort of the opposite perspective. Still working that into a post!

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