I have been fully entrenched in the natural health and natural birth communities for a number of years now. Outside of being a doula, I am heavily involved in the real food movement, I write a natural health blog and I have had the pleasure of socializing with natural health, fitness, and food bloggers from all over the world. So, every now and again I have to poke my head up from my natural living rabbit hole and find a little balance with mainstream culture.
After years of working as a doula the various mantras about the natural process of pregnancy and birth are engrained in my mind. “pregnancy is not an illness it is a normal physical state”, “Birth is a natural process that your body was designed to go through” “Pregnancy and birth are not medical problems, but rather natural states of being”… So when I became pregnant for the first time this past March I expected to go on living life as usual because birth was normal and natural and I was healthy and fit, and normal and natural in my mind meant living life as usual. Then I got hit with five weeks of severe morning sickness, fatigue that has never lifted, and a variety of other aches and pains.
What was I doing wrong? I had great nutrition, I was taking great vitamins, supplementing with magnesium and B6, going to the chiropractor every two weeks, working out, drinking pregnancy tea, getting sleep, listening to my birth affirmations… Why was this pregnancy thing, this “natural state of health” not going better? Why was it not easy?
I spent a number of weeks feeling guilty for not being “better” at being pregnant. I had spent years walking with women through the journey of birth and pregnancy and helping them achieve positive pregnancy and birth experiences and it seemed like I couldn’t even do it “right” for myself. Then I swallowed my pride and expressed my feelings to my wonderful doula, Jamilla, and her response was so perfectly simple that I couldn’t believe I has wasted so much time feeling so guilty. (Side note: This is why you cannot “doula” yourself) She said, “ training for a marathon is a natural process too, but you would never expect to go through that process without sore muscles, without needing a nap every now and then or without needing a few extra snacks.”
Talk about a serious light bulb moment/face palm/duh moment! I had completely under valued the work that my body had been doing all this time. I wasn’t failing because my back hurt and I was tired, in fact I was succeeding in successfully growing a human being those were just the minor side effects. Sometimes we can get so wrapped up in thinking that natural birth and pregnancy equals simplicity (i.e. less interventions, a less medicalized model, less restrictions) that we can start to believe that pregnancy in and of itself is somehow simple and nothing could be further from the truth. Pregnancy is a complex miracle from start to finish, it requires many physical resources, lots of energy and it is truly awe-inspiring in its very nature.
Pregnancy is a natural state of health, this is true. However, natural does not always mean simple and it certainly does not always mean easy.
This article was written by Samantha McClellan. She is a DONA certified birth doula, a full time nanny, a natural health blogger, the wife of a youth pastor and a soon-to-be first time mom. To learn more about Samantha or to learn about the services she provides please click HERE.