A lot of talk around pregnancy seems to be about intuition and body knowledge. Natural birth advocates are often saying that a woman’s body knows what to do during labour and birth, you just need to listen to your body and follow what it is telling you. And to an extent, I do agree: our bodies have been designed to give birth. It is fascinating to me the differences between human birth and births among other mammals (not that I have witnessed either) and the way that the differences in our bodies (namely, that we walk on two legs but also have big brains compared to other mammals) affects how we can give birth. Even though human babies are less mature than other primates, for example, when they are born, their relatively huge heads compared to the mother’s pelvis means that our babies have to do special turns and manoeuvres to get through the birth canal. And no one has to teach the mom or baby how to do these.
But my real question about intuition is this: how do I know that the feeling I am having is intuition and not want I want or hope? For instance, we did not find out via ultrasound whether this little one is a boy or a girl. So people always ask me which I think the baby is. And some people really have strong feelings that their little baby is one or the other, like their body knows. Off and on during the course of the pregnancy, I have had some inklings that this baby is a girl (although most people seem to think it is a boy). But do I think that because there is just a part of me that knows that it is a girl, or is it because part of me hopes that it is a girl? (I have this image in my mind that I will have lots of kids—good!—but all boys—scary!!! I think my wanting a girl this time around is not so much about this particular child, but to ensure that whatever I might have in the future, at least I’ll have one little lady in the house.)
I went to bed last night really thinking, down to my toes, that labour wasn’t far off now. Not that it would necessarily be the next day (and it hasn’t started yet!), but that there wouldn’t be too many baby-free days left in our lives. But OF COURSE this is true! I have passed my due date—there will only be two weeks, at the most, left with this baby not out in the world. This isn’t intuition, it is statistics (something I can rely on :) ).
I think this is what scares me about labour—although not really in a bad way, in an exciting way. I want to be able to “listen to my body” and let it do its thing. But when have I ever in my life had a chance to “practice” using my intuition and my body’s knowledge? I feel like I should have been preparing for it in some way—can you teach yourself to listen to your body? Some probably would say that you could.
But really, I am probably just over-thinking all of this; which is, of course, the exact opposite of listening to your body and following your gut! I have quite a mathematical, researcher-y type brain, and I want a simple equation: if x, then y. Y is that I know that I really would like an unmedicated, intervention-free birth, and I want there to be an X to guarantee that I will be able to achieve that. If my body and my baby know what to do, then it seems the solution would be just to let the process unfold by itself, not try to insert my rational mind into the equation. If only it were that simple!
I am really excited about labour, though. Intrigued about how it will pan out, what will happen. Will it be anything like my expectations? (I am pretty sure that answer will be no!) I think, whether I can follow this intuition thing or not, I am preparing to have a good time with birthing my baby. And good preparation leads to good results, right? (Right?!?!)