And ain't this the truth?! It reminds me of a conversation I had with a Canadian mother of two this summer. She told me that during her first labour she had been very scared about what was happening to her, and had felt the sensations of labour were overwhelming and subsuming her. As a result, for her second labour she paid for a midwife (which is still fairly unusual in Canada - most births are attended by obstetric gynaecologists, or OBGYN's). During this pregnancy her midwife told her about the process of pregnancy and labour, about how her hormones and cervix work together, at the right pace for her body and her baby, and showed her how, between the perfect design of her pelvis and the rotations babies instinctively make during birth, she is in fact very well designed to birth her baby.
Result? Her second birth was much calmer and more relaxed. She told me she enjoyed the birth - and couldn't believe it was possible, after the fear of her first birth experience. And this entire conversation happened even before I told her what I do for a living!
What did she think had made the difference? She felt that understanding what her body was doing was really important - she said one of the main differences was that she felt her first labour was happening 'to' her, but in her second she understood that she was part of the process. In fact, her 'Good Birth' came about because she felt in control and trusted that her attendants trusted her and her baby. All of which takes us back to the frankly wonderful Anne Drapkin Lyerly and The Good Birth Project
So, hooray to midwives. And hooray to knowledge empowering innately powerful women.