It’s not easy to prepare parents for the patience that is sometimes needed during a long birth. However, I have attended long births many times and I think it is essential to let couples know that sometimes, that is just how a birth needs to be and a long labor, while a variation from normal, is still normal.
The long births I have attended have taught me so much about the patience that is needed for some mother-baby dances. These lessons in patience have certainly come from caregivers (usually out-of-hospital midwives), but more often the profound lessons I have learned about strength in waiting have come from the laboring mothers and their partners whose trust in normal birth sometimes peaks my own.
I have repeatedly been in awe of these women who continue on…working with body and their baby, moving in and out of exhaustion and energy, through doubt and back to trust again. So often I hear that they looked to me to carry on and I believe with all my heart that in those moments what they saw was me reflecting their own resolve back to them in that moment.
I also have such respect and gratitude to the partners of these women, who invested in this journey with her, who believed in her and carried her through when she needed it. I want to thank these women and their partners for affirming for me what I know, but love to be reminded…birth is bigger than all of us and it requires us simply to remain present for the journey.
Did you have a long birth? If so, what helped you cope the most?