This quote pops up all the time when someone is looking for birth affirmations, inspiring birth quotes, and general encouragement for labor. I can see why: It seems positive. It seems empowering. It certainly makes you feel good. But I don't like it. In fact, I cringe a little every time some well-intended birth person posts it on her FB page. I get it, I really do. There are enough things out there which cause us to doubt ourselves as women; messages which bombard us daily telling us we're not good enough, not smart enough or not strong enough. So what's the matter with a little positive affirmation? Right?
Why don't you ask someone who truly did "believe she could" with all her heart... and then didn't.
Ask the mama who did everything "right" for the natural birth she hoped for. She ate right, she exercised right,she trusted her body. She believed she could do it......But then her baby inexplicably flipped breech at 41 weeks and she had a cesarean birth.
Ask the mama who hoped for a VBAC and did everything in her power to avoid a cesarean, including: only reading positive birth stories, choosing not only a VBAC friendly doctor, but a VBAC supportive doctor, hiring a doula, working through her fears, etc. And most importantly, trusting in her body, trusting in birth (whatever THAT means? I sense a future post on this one.) She truly believed she could do it.....Only to have a repeat cesarean.
Ask the mama who grew up around natural birth, who saw her sisters, aunts and cousins labor normally. Who truly believed that she could do it.... only to have her labor progress so quickly and intensely she felt completely out of her mind and out of control... petrified and scared to death.
The message this quote subtly sends is: if you just believe hard enough, you will have the birth you desire. And if you don't have your "ideal" birth, then you didn't believe enough -- Like somehow you have a say in what happens, or that you have some control over the outcome of your birth. Ha! No way!
Let's look at this quote with a fresh perspective-- one that isn't focused on the outcome of the birth, which can lead to disappointment, feelings of failure, and birth trauma. The only way this quote will work is to ask, "WHAT is being believed in?" She believed she could... do WHAT? We must remove the outcome- focus in order for this sentiment to be truly beneficial to laboring moms.
The next time you see this quote pop up in your news feed, gently ask the mama WHAT it is she believes she can do. If she is focused on the outcome of the birth, remind her that she has no control of this part of her birth. She can however, do her best, bring all her love and attention to the birth as it unfolds, and stay connected to herself (intuition) and her baby. When this occurs, dare I say, it almost won't matter what the outcome is.