My prenatal care setting also encouraged women giving birth to share and learn from each other. The waiting area was the living room of an old victorian house which was the residence of my midwife, Kate. Mothers who had just given birth shared their stories, which imparted realistic information about giving birth. Their birth stories helped me develop resources for endurance and coping which I brought to my own labor.
Although I had been to Lamaze classes, no film compared with the impact of one uncensored audiotape of a woman in labor that I was lucky enough to hear while I waited for my last prenatal appointment. I will never forget Ann. She played an audiotape of herself in labor, which had been recorded only two weeks earlier. She smiled and nursed her baby while sounds of her wailing through a contraction resounded throughout the waiting area. I listened to this woman's labor and watched her smile at her newborn while she waited for her postpartum visit. At once, both the reality of labor pain and the beauty and health of childbirth were communicated to me. My body registered the sounds of Ann's labor better than any visual images could have expressed to me. Her birth sounds provided me with a body-learning, which my childbirth classes had lacked. This experience helped me meet my own labor realistically, and without fear.
My daughter's birth was a very moving experience for me. I gave birth at home after 24 hours of labor -- 8 hours of active labor. I felt in contact with the power of the life force traveling through me. I will never forget that feeling. I felt very lucky to be a woman!