Exploring What It Means to be Human When It Comes to Birth

Tustin breastfeeding help what it means to be human in birth

We want to share with you a beautiful post on the Birthing From Within blog written by the wonderful Kathie Neff.

Kathie is a Birthing From Within mentor in the Inland Empire who provides support for parents before, during, and after birth, as well as offering wisdom and guidance for other doulas (including us). She is also an educator at Corazon Counseling, a holistic practice offering culturally inclusive emotional support for Inland Empire residents moving through life’s transitions. We’re so lucky to have her in our community just a few miles away from Orange County.

The title of Kathie’s blog post we want to share with you is “On Being Human in Birth,” and it’s one of the most compassionate things we’ve read in a while.

The concept of being human in birth is something we often talk with parents about, especially when there are feelings of wanting to birth in a certain way in order to “succeed” or feel good about the birth afterward. Many approaches to childbirth preparation teach parents things to do that will help them achieve certain things and avoid others. And while there is a lot of education going on in terms of the birth process itself, sometimes approaches like this can become especially tough during labor if things take a different direction than expected (for reasons none of us may ever understand).

We practice from a different paradigm.

Our approach in our childbirth classes and doula work recognizes the power and mystery birth still holds, despite all our best efforts to contain and control it. From this point of view, we often end up in areas of grey rather than black and white. (To learn more about the Birthing From Within approach, read this post.)

Keeping in mind the common humanness of everyone involved in a birth can help us recognize the positive intentions so many care providers, partners, and even doulas actually have - even when their actions are perceived as unhelpful or challenging in the moment. (Of course there are situations where positive intent isn’t present, but in our experience by and large that’s not the case.)

By spending time in pregnancy softening around our expectations of those who will be supporting during labor and recognizing that they too are human, we can bring so much more compassion into our experience - compassion not only for others, but also for ourselves.

Part of what being human means is experiencing a range of emotions in response to intense, trying circumstances like labor, birth, and becoming a parent.

Often these emotions are seemingly in conflict with each other - many parents tell us about experiencing things like fear, joy, disappointment, doubt, excitement, and more during labor. And sometimes there is a feeling that those things are not all ok.

But if we're viewing birth as a human experience (and it’s truly one of the most fundamentally human experiences, isn’t it?), it’s easy to see how all the other aspects of being human can flow right into the experience of being in labor or watching your partner labor.

From the post:

You may find, as you tune in, that your feelings and reactions are not what you expected – perhaps to the degree that you begin to wonder, “Who am I?” as you travel your unique initiatory path. In this mindset, the outcome bows to the process, and hidden within that process you may find a new kind of medicine for life, a kind for remedy for fallibility: self-love that sheds the idea of success and failure in favor of deep truth and humility. And so, by opening to the inner work awakened by birth as initiation, you may just stumble upon a journey of transformation with lifelong benefits. Keep going.

We invite you to read Kathie’s thoughtful post and consider how the very human aspects of birth might affect your experience. Can you find a little more compassion for yourself and the other humans who will experience this birth alongside you?

And if you want to hear more of Kathie’s wise words, check out her interviews on the Adult Conversation podcast.


If this approach speaks to you and you live in Orange County or Long Beach, learn more about the ways we support parents in pregnancy, birth, and beyond.


Get our free guide:
20 Ways to Prepare for Birth

Lake Forest birth doula 20 ways to prepare for birth

Receive our free guide, 20 Ways to Prepare for Birth, when you sign up for updates and announcements!