Keep Your Power: 9 Reasons Why You Don’t Want To Hand Over Your Power In Birth

Written by: Debra Pascali- Bonaro

Originally printed in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue 65 – Spring 2020

Photo by lucas  mendes on

Handing over your power to a provider or place of birth means so much more than we realize. When we throw our hands in the air and say, “they know best,” we limit our own ability to find our inner power and move into parenthood as advocates for ourselves and our families. Giving up your power also means you give up:

  1. The opportunity to be in your space and your power
  2. The freedom to move where and when you’d like
  3. Being in your comfort zone and to have familiar things bring visual comfort
  4. Feeling radiant and sexy, because really, when is the last time you felt radiant and sexy at a hospital?
  5. Creating your own “guest list” of who is welcome into your space, instead of strangers coming and going without permission no matter how vulnerable you might feel
  6. Having intimate time with yourself and your partner
  7. Being in your own bed and including your family as you desire during labor, birth, and the first golden hours
  8. Smelling familiar smells and hearing familiar sounds
  9. Being the most powerful person in the room

I am not saying we all should give birth at home, although for some people with a skilled midwife, home birth is a wonderful and safe option. I hope one day soon we will have hospitals that provide experiences similar to home-birth for labor and delivery. Women deserve all of the above, even in a hospital, and for the practices and philosophy to welcome and encourage birth as a natural part of our life. I imagine a hospital with providers and caregivers acting more as lifeguards — there only when needed, responding with gentle, appropriate, and evidence-based care only when it is needed, instead of responding in fear, over-treating, disturbing, and intervening.

We are learning that the over-medicalization of childbirth is negatively affecting women’s ability to give birth and negatively affecting our memories and experiences.

The recent World Health Organization recommendations on intrapartum care for a positive childbirth experience — along with other incredible reports and initiatives, including the International Childbirth Initiative, which I co-chair — are beginning to really shine a light on the need for change. But change does take time.

So, what can you do?

Review the bullet points above and think about their importance for you to be able to open to birth. Birth is intimate and requires the same hormones to flow as when we are opening to orgasm. Things that will disturb your intimacy will disturb you when you are laboring and giving birth to your baby, and can make birth longer and more painful. Talk to your partner about your feelings, hire a doula, and consider taking Pain to Power’s online Pleasurable Birth Labor Essentials class. It will help you expand your comfort and pleasure kit, release your fears, and gain the confidence to create the birth you desire in any location… a birth filled with pleasure and love.

Debra Pascali-Bonaro, B.Ed., LCCE, PDT/BDT(DONA), is co-chair of the International Childbirth Initiative and chair of the International MotherBaby Childbirth Initiative, both of which promotes safe, respectful childbirth maternity care. She is also a Lamaze International childbirth educator, birth and postpartum doula trainer with DONA International, director of the award-winning documentary Orgasmic Birth: The Best-Kept Secret, co-writer of Orgasmic Birth: Your Guide to a Safe, Satisfying and Pleasurable Birth, and the founder and president of the revolutionary online childbirth class Pain to Power, which prepares expectant mothers, fathers, and partners to be positively prepared for birth. For more than 30 years, Debra has worked to bring comfort, love and pleasure to birth and life.

View article resources and author information here.

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