Educator or Supporter?
There are two main types of birth advocates – ones that educate you to provide you with the information to make the decisions, and ones that support you in the decisions you are making. Essentially they go hand in hand, but we typically focus – thrive – in one area or the other… everyone has their preferred niche. The first advocate leads you, gives you truth (even if it hurts), and knows this is a tough culture and time to birth in so they want you prepared with the power of knowledge… knowledge to know how your choices change your experience so you can make informed decisions. The second advocate meets you where you are, knows this is a tough culture and time to birth in, and provides you with the emotional support needed to tackle any birth experience.
There is no right or wrong; we need both of these types of advocates. We need truth tellers, educators, and information advocates to spread knowledge so that mothers can learn about our culture, discover their birth philosophy, and know the rights they have for the spiritual experience of birth. We also need supporters, caring empathizers, and individuals who can meet a mom where they are on their birth journey. Having these two advocates blend together in the birth industry create a well-rounded group of women to bring new moms on this powerful journey.
We need to stop with the guilt trip guilt trips. Knowledge is power, and by withholding truth for the sake of not offending someone, we belittle them into believing they cannot handle the truth. I don’t know of anyone who felt guilty by making an informed decision. I know plenty of people who felt angry by being betrayed or chose something different with a subsequent birth. Sharing information and learning about experience is not a judgment. The only way educators can learn to share experiences with others is to figure out the details. By asking questions, conversing about options, and learning how things played out – they are learning. This kind of research is one of the best ways of learning to educate others about their decisions. Questions for understanding are not a judgment.
We need to allow birth stories to be shared. Positive birth stories are crucial for motivation for moms and should be shared a million times over. However, ALL birth stories are crucial for healing and should also be shared a million times over, especially in a safe and empowering environment. When we suppress a mom from talking about her birth experience – no matter how her choices may differ from your own or “changed” her birth – you’re telling her that her birth isn’t good enough, doesn’t matter, or was wrong. All births are intimate rites of passage.
We need to remember that this is a very difficult culture and time for biological birth. The consumer has requested this type of culture and the provider has responded – and over years the medical side of birth has increased in strength. The influence has come from both sides, and won’t change unless the consumer demands something different. This is where knowledge is key. Knowing how your birth is affected by the choices you make will help you make the best choices for your body and baby. Knowing that we won’t catch every mom with enough time to change a lifetime of beliefs is imperative to supporting her decisions no matter how they differ from your own. Think about how long it has taken you to come to the place of advocacy you are today – and meet her in her journey as well.
Bottom line, remember that everyone has the birth they need for their own spiritual journey. There is a rhyme and reason for all things. Births are life changing for the mom and baby, and we all want this experience to be as healthy and happy as it can be – but ultimately, no matter how this plays out, this event is significant to challenge you in your faith and relationship with God. Maybe you are becoming a stronger mother, a more loving care giver, a more patient person, a more carefree individual, understanding for the next phase of your life, meeting someone that you’ll impact in the future… the reasons are endless. So, let’s join together in our advocacy and not fight with one another for the sake of which one has it right. They are all necessary – let’s just work to make birth normal again for everyone and the birth experience empowering.