My dictionary defines intuition as “the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning”. Intuition is a handy tool that all humans make use of on occasions, whether it is in raising their children, avoiding a stranger that gives us the creeps, guiding our professional and financial decisions, and even during pregnancy and birth. Intuition is not just for hippies, new age folks, or psychics – though those groups are just fine, too. Intuition is for everyone and before you brush it off, remember that you, too, rely on your intuition at times.
Why write about intuition, and its role in pregnancy and birth? For two reasons. Number One is that every woman uses her intuition during her pregnancy, as well as in daily life. If you have been pregnant and “knew” you were expecting a baby of a certain sex, that was intuition talking. If you “knew” you were pregnant before you started having symptoms, that was intuition talking. And if you “knew” that your baby was fine, or if you “felt” there was something wrong, that was intuition too.
Reason Number Two for writing about intuition is that this handy tool is brushed off all too easily by medical professionals and skeptics who hold that we should rely on modern medicine, and not our intuition, to guide us on the journey of pregnancy and birth. But listening to your intuition and receiving medical care are not, of course, mutually exclusive. We can do both, and often willdo both automatically, because intuition does not require us to flick a switch. It often comes naturally.
When it comes to unassisted homebirth, should we allow intuition to guide us? My own answer is no – not exclusively. I believe in doing research, gathering information about pregnancy and birth, and learning to recognize what are normal occurrences during pregnancy and birth and what are not. Some women choose to combine this process with midwifery or OB care, while others provide their own prenatal care. In either case intuition is not the only tool, but one of several in our toolbox, which we would be wise not to ignore.
What can intuition do for us during birth? Women who are equipped with solid knowledge about birth, its physiology and possible complications still have use for intuition! Those who give birth alone have all the freedom in the world to assume whatever physical position feels best. Intuition can help us get into the position that most easily helps us give birth. Intuition can tell us to get medical care, to push with all our power when we were previously planning to “breathe the baby out”, and to provide the best care to our newborn after she is born – just to name a few examples.
Intuition can fail us, or we can choose not to listen to it. But intuition does have a role to play in pregnancy and birth, just as it does during any other time in life. It could, potentially, save our lives!