The Birth Journey
Moms, dads, and birth professionals often talk about natural and medical birth “outcomes.” The truth is, prior to any outcome, every birth is an activity that families can engage in and navigate as active participants. We can focus on this activity to great benefit for ourselves. Our sense of coherence during the activity of birth can be as important for our well-being as the circumstantial birth outcomes.
Imagine this: A new pregnant mother and her partner desire a vaginal birth without interventions. During pregnancy they take a birth class, create a birth plan, and make informed choices, but are unaware that there are any skills they can learn for the activity of giving birth. The birth journey begins and gets to be far more challenging than they expected. The journey finally comes to an end, resulting in their “desired outcome,” but they are left emotionally scarred by the experience.
Now imagine this same birth, but the family learns birthing skills—breathing techniques, coping methods, communication, tissue preparation and softening, meditation, and body-skills such as pelvic mapping, positioning, and hip and sacral maneuvers to offer more space at birth. The birth may still be hard, but the journey is safeguarded from trauma due to their sense of engagement with “what they can do for themselves.”
There is a new lens through which we can think about birth. We can learn to engage with the birth journey. By preparing the body—supporting the body’s physiological function—and learning pragmatic skills to help us work through this activity, we can achieve something beyond natural or medical outcomes. We can learn to achieve a Salutogenic birth experience for all births.
A Salutogenic birth experience is about the resources we use to rise to a given challenge, growing our strength, confidence, and trust in ourselves, which becomes a part of us for the years that follow. Salutogenesis is a term that means “the birth of health.” Families can achieve a new level of health, resilience, and connection, when they have what they need to meet stresses together.
Learning birth skills and preparing physiologically for birth evolves and elevates the birth conversation, and helps us transform the quality of our experience of the birth journey itself. No matter what direction the birth unfolds, a Salutogenic birth experience awaits each family, alongside the power within to live the journey as active leaders of life.