I blush easily, swim fully clothed, and greatly value modesty. But I love discussing childbirth and I love having friends come to my births. For my second child, my friend and her mom and another friend were there. For my third child, three friends attended too! I can’t imagine doing anything different for future births. And I will gladly watch my friends give birth as well.
In fact, this month I had the enormous privilege of speedily driving to Daytona to help one of my dearest friends give birth to her first child. When I stepped inside the birthing center and watched my friend conquer each contraction, with her husband lovingly supporting her, I immediately realized that I was participating in a really special experience. When I tried to explain to people why I went to Daytona, I think they either thought I was going to the hospital to meet the newborn or that I am an underground midwife helping a friend give birth illegally in her basement or something. I think there’s a lot of confusion and stigma about watching friends give birth and about childbirth in general, so I would love to provide some perspective because men and women who think childbirth is disgusting or taboo (as I did for the majority of my life) are missing out. Here are 3 reasons watching friends give birth is super magical:
1.) Childbirth is so intimate.
I’ll talk about the most obviously awkward aspect of this topic first: yes, the women attending a birth will probably see their friend totally naked for hours on end. Chances are good that they’ll even watch their friend have a bowel movement while trying to push out the baby, because that’s super common. But what a beautiful thing it says about friendship and unconditional love that a pregnant mother would feel comfortable inviting some of her close friends to see her in such a vulnerable state. This shows that she values their presence more than their perception of her, and that speaks loudly of the friendship’s depth. Supporting a friend in birth inevitably deepens that friendship in an extremely unique way. Plus, giggling about the awkward parts of the birth afterward can be a comforting and sweet aspect of the friendship too.
2) Labor is intense, so everyone can be useful.
Here’s what birthing with friends might look like: One friend is putting cold towels on the mama’s forehead, one friend is putting hot towels on her neck; her husband is massaging her back while another friend is rubbing her arm. (The midwife and her birth assistant and student midwife are also likely busy doing whatever’s needed.) Or, in difficult moments of pushing, there might be seven different people holding the mother’s legs back to help her push. And sometimes the smallest tokens of love mean so much: my friend brought me cookies at the perfect moment, and for her birth I gave her a slushy just when she needed it as well. Probably most encouraging are the words spoken…after every painful contraction there might be a small chorus of gentle voices saying “Good job mama!” and “Your baby can’t wait to meet you!” Chances are hefty that, especially during the transition stage, a birthing mother has to fight thoughts such as “Nothing’s happening” or “You’re being a wimp,” so the timely words of her supporting friends are invaluable in those vulnerable moments. The gifts of sympathy and empowerment, especially from people you love and trust, are huge.
3) Childbirth is a beautiful miracle.
In simple language, this is how babies are made: two small cells come together and create one cell, a very very tiny baby, who attaches to the mother’s womb. Over nine months the baby starts growing all his or her systems and organs and features. Nobody from the outside even has to do anything; DNA provides all the instructions needed and the baby just grows. Even the mother gets a new organ inside the womb that filters nutrients and feeds the baby…interestingly enough, this organ is shaped like a tree. Though, sadly, complications and tragedies can happen, typically babies continue to grow for nine months until the mother’s body decides it’s time for the baby to come out. With increasing frequency and intensity, the mother’s womb squeezes tightly, which can be very painful, but these squeezes effectively thin and open the bottom of the womb and move the baby downward. The baby is more flexible than he ever will be for the rest of his life because he’s about to do some unbelievable gymnastics and make his way out of the tunnel and into the loving arms of his mama. This doesn’t always happen ideally or as planned, and interventions sometimes do need to occur (and I’m so grateful they’re available.) But however the birth happens, it’s a miracle that a whole person with a body and soul and hopes and dreams and a future can come from two tiny cells. Attending a friend’s birth and watching the final steps of the process take place is watching a miracle, and it’s beautiful.
In conclusion, birth is great, and though I don’t ever plan to have a career as a midwife—and I doubt I have the patience to be a doula—I will forever be in awe of this miracle and consider it a blessing to experience it myself or support a friend who is doing so.
Here are some other articles I've written on birth:
Carried by the Lord (how my friends supported me so much during my 3rd child's birth)
8 Personal Reasons I Plan on Having Another Home Birth (though I used a birthing center for my third and it was an equally great experience)
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My name is Hope.
I'm 25, married to a rad guy, and raising three little people ages 1,3, and 5...and I'm now expecting my fourth. I like lime green, Coke icees, and I wear my Crocs until they have holes in them...or melt.
Quick links to some of my posts:
Articles I've Written on Other Sites:
Youth Ministry's Family Blindspot - Christianity Today