Do Babies Remember Their Birth? Yes they do…
DID YOU KNOW THAT BABIES REMEMBER THEIR BIRTH?
Storytime folks… Yes, babies remember their birth. And if that’s true then you remember your birth. You may not remember your birth as a cognitive memory but you feel it inside and hold that memory within your cells. I felt my birth story internally and my body remembered it physically. That’s how humans are set up to survive. Nothing gets past our body, our nervous system, and our brain. We are wired to survive and never forget.
That memory is what brought me into birth education. But it brought me to birth education BEFORE I had the actual memory, before I knew the details of my birth. The unconscious memory of MY birth also prevented the same things that happened to me from happening to my daughter at her birth. And those preventative steps I took were all subconscious and they worked magically to heal what I didn’t know needed to be healed. Babies remember their birth.
How are we giving birth to our children? Are we just turning the whole process over to care providers to make all of the decisions? I started out that way – I get it.
Are we gathering all the education so we truly understand what is going on within our body and our baby – physically, emotionally and/or spiritually during pregnancy? Are we taking active steps to help our new baby on their journey to our planet and giving them the calmest, most peaceful start?
Induction is a very popular way to get babies earthside in modern times and the pandemic has only increased that suggestion or “the push” depending on how your care provider is using that tool for what should be used only in high risk pregnancies.
JUST A FEW SIMPLE QUESTIONS –
As a newer doula and birth educator, I was invited to attend a workshop taught by Anna Verwaal. Within the first 15 minutes of the presentation, Anna’s questions were able to bring up a visceral memory in my body of the birth experience with my mother. I began to sob uncontrollably for the next three hours of the workshop. As the tears streamed steadily down my face, I heard a tiny voice in my head saying over and over, “where is my mom? I want my mom!”
I didn’t understand where this deep-felt longing and sense of fear was coming from but it resounded heavily in my chest and lungs. My body felt thick and weighted. My breathing labored as I drenched my shirt with tears. What was happening to me? What was happening INSIDE of me? Was this current pain or just unprocessed pain from a memory? The release seemed to come out of nowhere. And coming from a family who didn’t talk about uncomfortable things – this woke the hibernating bear within me. I wanted answers and all of them.
With just a few simple questions, Anna was able to wake up feelings and a memory that had laid dormant in my body for decades. But how? The felt details that I was feeling had never been part of the birth story I had been told. Yet everything that I was feeling told me that I was induced and taken away from my mother at birth. I knew physically within my body what had remained unspoken for 40 years. I woke up. I felt it all.
I WASN’T READY TO COME OUT
As the workshop continued, I KNEW that not only was I induced but that I wasn’t ready to come out. My birth had set patterns in my life that I could never explain.
**I had a strong opposition to authority and did things my own way – always.
**I felt that my voice was never heard so I spoke loudly, constantly, and above everyone else in the room – always.
**And in school, sports, and other church activities, I over-prepared to excess and still froze and felt unprepared – always. Even with knowing the information backward and forwards, I had never felt ready.
Those are my identifying words – “I never feel ready.”
MY BIRTH STORY
After day one of the workshop, I called my mom hoping to get more details about my birth. But inside I knew that I was just calling to confirm what I already felt to be true. And yes – she was in fact induced.
My mother didn’t share that “induced” part of my birth story because she didn’t even realize that an induction was happening to her. My mom had been suffering from extreme sciatica on her right side for six weeks. When the doctor saw she was barely able to get down from the exam table he said, ”Oh we can’t have that. Let’s get that baby out today. You can check in down the hall and your husband can go get your things. The nurses will take good care of you.” That was it. That was the induction discussion.
My mom, knowing that she wanted to have me naturally after her previous four births had all been medicated, made the doctor swear that no matter how much she begged for pain medication that he and the nurses wouldn’t give it to her. He agreed and she checked herself in. Still no mention of Pitocin, IV fluids, time length, or what to expect.
The details I learned of my birth still make me sick to my stomach to this day.
Briefly imagine how you would do with a sunny-side-up baby, feeling extreme back labor, being strapped to the bed because “you are moving too much” and Pitocin then streamed into your veins. Hard contraction after contraction with no break.
Add in that every time you cried, wailed, and demanded pain killers it was refused because “you told us not to give it to you,”. The staff would then increase the Pitocin to help get me out faster. It was misery, suffering, and torment. My mom’s words were, “I died during your birth and saw God. The pain of a natural birth was unbearable. It was the most horrendous experience of my life.”
But that WASN’T a natural birth mom. THAT was torture.
She followed up with, “It was hard to look at you once you came out. I had them give you to your dad to hold. I didn’t breastfeed and you ended up with really bad jaundice. We had to leave you in the nursery for two weeks and were only allowed one (2) hour visit a day after we went home without you. I could only touch you through the little hole in the plastic box.”
SHE DIDN’T GIVE CONSENT
My mom didn’t understand what an induction was and that it was happening to both of us. She didn’t have a clue that I, her baby, would be affected. But how could I not? I was in her body. Fear and anguish was coursing through her veins that day, not just Pitocin. And I felt it all. Babies feel our feelings – always. How can that be avoided when they are inside of our bodies? It cannot.
That day, there was no explanation of the induction method being used, its side effects, and what could possibly happen to the two of us. This lack of explanation and understanding resulted in the story of fear and pain that I had been told all my life.
This is why I was terrified to give birth and why I was willing to let a doctor do whatever it took to keep me out of pain and even cut my baby out of my body if necessary. I didn’t know it could be different. I had never been told. I had been reminded of the fear and the terror that my mother experienced throughout my entire life. I was masking the fear and the pain I deeply felt but didn’t understand why and where that fear was coming from. And when you come from a family that hides reality and doesn’t feel the feelings – this discovery had to be divinely extracted in a workshop I attended 40 years later.
IT IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY
Our babies are affected by the birth choices that we make or don’t make from a lack of understanding. It is our responsibility to ask questions of a system that is designed to get us through as fast as possible to make the highest profit margin for the hospital and its providers.
That’s not me hating authority – that’s the truth of our maternal medical system. This “broken” system is designed perfectly to make money but that happens to be at the expense of our greatest assets – parents and their babies. The start of a new family that could be calm, safe, and beautiful is more often replaced with fear and unrecognized trauma that goes untreated. This system is designed with us as a number and a cash amount tied to the end result. It isn’t designed to honor and respect human beings in one of the most miraculous experiences allowed on earth – birth.
My mom just thought she was having a “natural birth with no pain medication” and it turned out to be the most traumatic two days of her life. It is no wonder that when I told her some 37 years later that I wanted to have a natural birth, she laughed in my face and told me that I didn’t have it in me. At the time I just thought she was extremely unsupportive so I uninvited her to attend my birth and was deeply hurt. If we only knew where that was coming from…
TRUST OR DISTRUST BEGINS BEFORE BIRTH
In 1972 the science had not been established to show that as a baby, within my birth, I had also experienced the trauma and terror my mother experienced. It was still alive within me because babies remember their birth. We know now that babies are cognizant, feeling, human beings that experience what their parents experience. And yes, I said parents because both parents influence our experience in and out of utero from the beginning. We cellularly feel and remember our earthly experience from conception through our death. We are human with all of the feelings from the beginning to the end.
We “adults” learned to trust or not trust the world through our caretakers from our very first beginnings. And our babies that we are currently gestating, are learning to trust or not trust the same way. This is why early birth education is so important and why I do what I do.
Almost 50 years later, that lack of education on induction(amongst a myriad of other birth-related subjects) is still happening within our birth system.
REPEATING AND HEALING THE PATTERNS
My personal birth induction experience had me repeating patterns in my life of not being ready for anything and always feeling rushed and sensing that I was vigilantly supervised by some authority. And as a Doula, those patterns showed up with every birth I attended.
Within my doula and birth education work I was in constant warrior mode to protect my families and their babies from being bullied by a system that wasn’t designed in their best interest. Births had me asking where is the informed consent? Where is the full explanation of what is about to take place and why aren’t these families being given the choice to say yes or no to that experience or intervention?
My trauma brought me into birth work to heal. And if we delve into some of the doctors, nurses, and midwives’ own birth experiences, birth trauma may have been what brought them to birth as well. We are trying to heal our trauma subconsciously if we are unaware of the patterns our births established in us. We are attracted to familiar patterns.
And the flip side – if birth was a good experience based on trust and consent, that is how birth workers help other people heal and come to know that trust and love with their babies.
EDUCATION GIVES US CHOICES
I realized that the induction experience is where my mom didn’t have full authority and consent over her
body and that had affected ME in my life. But finally understanding that it was HER story and that this mistrust happened to HER – allowed me to let most of that go and begin my healing with a much more balanced view.
Life patterns our children inherit begin when we conceive, gestate, and give birth to them.
When we, as parents, understand this, we make better choices. We ask more questions, we expect better answers. We begin to look at birth from our baby’s’ perspective and we become more conscious about what is happening to them. This is why it’s hard for me to teach a quick birth class that only covers what’s physically happening to our bodies. There is SO much more to birth than just our physical bodies.
YOUR BABY ONLY GETS ONE BIRTH
This labor and birth experience is happening to our babies simultaneously and we should be conscious of how our choices are affecting them. We are not taught that birth is a one-time experience for our children. This is your baby’s one and only birth experience. And we need to get this type of curriculum mainstream, beginning in sex education. This is your labor – but their birth.
This is why myself and my team have spent so many hours creating and teaching the induction portion of our birth classes. This curriculum is also for people birthing at home or birthing in a birth center. If they risk out and end up in a hospital for any reason, the choices in their care will matter even more in that setting.
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
For years I have watched parents in my classes become confident as they come to an understanding of the full scope of what birth can be. With the education that babies remember birth, parents become diligent advocates for their babies and their partners keep a firm watch on their new family. These parents are not intimidated by a system – instead, they are curious about what the safest path for their family will be and how to get there as a team with their providers.
Parents also recognize that within our current birth system, care providers do not have the time or energy to educate them on all aspects of all procedures done to encourage or hurry the birth process. Parents come to understand that they are the ones that have to take the initiative to curate the birth experience that they want. It is not the provider’s responsibility, although, in my opinion, it should be an equal partnership.
INDUCTION NEEDS TO BE FULLY UNDERSTOOD
Families need information on the pros and cons of induction, way before it is brought up in their doctor’s office so that they can ask questions without fear. When you are gathering information with some understanding of the process beforehand, you can make balanced choices and not become a number in the system.
With care providers bringing up induction earlier and earlier in the pregnancy, it sets up some “low-risk families” for unnecessary managed-care. While that managed-care works ideally for a provider’s schedule, it can turn that low-risk pregnancy into a trauma-filled birth experience that could have been avoided with more education.
It is also possible to have an amazing induction experience for both you and your baby. Taking things slow and steady with an induction can give your body the message that it needs to jump in and take over. There is no rush. When you are having an induction – you are not leaving until that baby is here. So taking things at a slower rate may allow for a smoother experience for the two of you and the still gets the job done!
My mother’s birth experience does not have to be on repeat 50 years later. As parents, we have more science that is easily accessible to research. We can and should make an informed choice when it comes to our body, our baby, and our birth experience. Prevention of birth trauma begins with evidence-based birth education.
IT’S TIME TO EDUCATE OUR FAMILIES
Our Induction 101 course is now available as a separate add-on course to any childbirth education class you take. Induction 101 covers all aspects of what your body normally does in labor and what your provider is trying to do with your body during an induction to help get your baby out safely.
Induction 101 covers all medications and their side effects as well as other less talked about tools you can choose from that may provide a more gentle process for you and your baby.
Understanding all aspects of an induction process and having this course to refer to when you have questions after leaving a prenatal appointment will help you make the best choices for yourself and your family. True informed consent is having all of the facts, risks, and methods and then making an educated choice. Informed refusal to any procedure is also your right as a parent.
Your baby only gets one birth experience and you all deserve it to be the very best it can be.
The Birth Education Center offers an online Induction 101 Course. Click here for more information.
To become an affiliate for this course – drop your details here: CONTACT US