WARNING: ACTUAL PHOTOS OF MY PLACENTA IMMEDIATELY POST-BIRTH APPEAR AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST
Q: Will this be a picture of a fake placenta? A drawing, perhaps?
A: No. This will actually be a real picture of my real placenta taken five minutes following my second daughter’s birth.
Q: Is there any way I can read this post and not see your placenta?
A: No. This is about my why you need to search graphic images and videos as part of birth prep. There are two close-up photos of my placenta.
Q: What if I am easily grossed out?
A: All the more reason you need to read on. If you’re pregnant, squeamish, and scared, this post is for you.
You’ve been warned…
“Replace the fear of the unknown with curiosity” -Unknown
Pregnancy can be filled with fear: fear of responsibility, fear of change, and fear of the worst outcomes. Even fear of the best outcomes, like a normal childbirth, is part of the torrent of tender emotions that saturate your thoughts for the nine months of your first pregnancy.
I wanted a healthy, normal, drug-free labour and birth. But, like any normal person on planet Earth, ever, I was pretty troubled by having to push a melon-headed, pointy elbowed, wriggling live human out of my vagina. Let's just call a spade a spade here: birth is a terrifying concept the first time around, and one you wouldn’t believe the laws of physics would allow if it hadn’t been the way EVERY PERSON EVER CAME INTO EXISTENCE!
So, say it with me: “Birth is inevitable.” *deep breath* Right off the bat, you’ve got inevitability working for you. You have to birth this baby. That is a fact. There is no way around that. Since your amazingly stretchy and physics-defying body is in charge of this process, you have but one weapon, albeit the most powerful one: your mind.
When I started to feel the pre-birth fear creeping up on me, I did what any fear-warrior would do: fight fears with curiosity by Googling every scary and potentially revolting thing that does, or could, or might arise during labour and birth.
When it comes to real birth-prep (and not the white-washed textbook junk you learn in your hospital class) the Internet is your brother/sister in arms. Video is your friend. Images are your friend. Here are some excellent search terms to get you started on winning the battle of YOU versus FEAR:
I know that medical professionals and anti-alarmists tell you to never Google health-related things. In my totally un-medical opinion, they are wrong. Do it. Look it up. Be familiar with the way a head looks as it squeezes past the public bone and the fuzzy hairs of the not-quite-newborn are peeking through your legs. See ALL of the things.
By the time I was 35 weeks pregnant I had seen every normal and nasty thing the Internet had to offer when it comes to preparing for a drug-free labour and birth. I was so ready it hurt (almost as much as my sciatic nerve and shiny-to-bursting belly). I know this is where you want me to say that when the contractions finally hit me I wasn’t scared.* I can’t say that. I was still scared.
But, I can say that I wasn’t afraid of the things I had been curious about, or had prepared for with my incessant Googling.
*good news is that by the time I had my second daughter two years later, I really wasn’t scared at all. I was taking selfies with the nurses right until my water exploded, and I had my baby out in two pushes. Experience counts for everything when it comes to birth.
Being an ostrich about your own labour and birth is a recipe for some really crappy emotions. So use some of that meditative birth breathing, and search ye some graphic images to desensitize, educate, and stimulate your curiosity about THE most amazing thing you will ever do with your body.
Q: I read the post, and I’m still not sure if I want to see your placenta. Can I just stop reading now…
A: Too late. You saw it. That is my amazing placenta; its huge, bloody, raw, and the incredible life-sustaining organ that a mother’s body grows while simultaneously building a human.
Now, you’re curious. Am I right? So. What else do you want to see?…