As part of a career exploration class I was part of in highschool, I took the long version of the Myers-Briggs personality test which gives a four letter code (not that kind of four letter code!) to explain one’s personality type. I was (and still am) an ENFP…Extrovert, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving (vs Introvert, Sensing, Thinking, Judging). What was most outstanding about my results was, of the thinking vs feeling questions, I scored for feeling on 99 out of 100. (Most trait results for the test are much less skewed because most people are much more balanced!) For me, this test really showed that feeling and intuition were a huge part of my self.
Soon after that, I got the message that my way of being was inferior to a more practical or pragmatic approach, that feeling made me weak and unreasonable. Because I have a tendency towards depression and anxiety, being so in tune with emotions (my own and others’) often came with a high price as well. So I worked hard to build up a shell of cold hard reason against the world. As you can imagine, this didn’t work very well. Some of the biggest mistakes I’ve had to learn from in my life came from ignoring my gut and doing what I thought I should do or what sounded reasonable and right.
Around the time I gave birth to my first son, I finally realized that this false way of trying to live my life was affecting my health, my sanity, my effectiveness, and my authenticity. I began to give myself permission to get back in touch with my inner voice and I have been on a journey since then to learn how to respect, honor, and follow that voice towards the best choices for my family and for me.
The more involved I have become in the wonderful world of birth and breastfeeding, the more excited I have become about the phrase “evidence based”. At some point, I had to ask myself why I, an ENFP, was so enamored with all of these studies and statistics. And the answer was that more often than not, the evidence backed up what my intuition already told me: that birth works best when left to progress naturally, that this whole process of making and birthing and feeding babies is perfectly designed and should not be messed with. Many an article comes through my news feed which could be filed under the heading of “Stuff We Didn’t Need a Study to Tell Us”.
But then, what about those studies that don’t back up my feelings or squarely contradict them? In those cases, I am learning more and more to continue to trust my gut. So far, my gut has not steered me wrong. I can not say the same for reliance on statistics. If there is a question between what an Authority has to say about something regarding my health or my child’s health versus what my inner wisdom tells me, I am going to choose my own voice.
As a childbirth educator, I hope to build my classes around this very idea that information and intuition need not be at odds and my goal is to help parents gather the evidence along with a solid trust in their own authority.
Numbers can be twisted to work for the biases of a reviewer or reader. Study methods can be flawed. Our human ways of understanding and relaying science are often more of an art! Truth can be up for auction to the highest bidder. For all of these reasons, it is important to carry within yourself the ability to make a choice based on what feels right to you and not just on what sounds most fancy or convincing on paper.
In the process of giving birth, we are truly animals. Clinging to statistics and “reason” can be detrimental to our ability to progress. We birth with our bodies and our hearts, not our heads. I want to empower women to trust the voice of love within their deepest selves. It is that voice which always knows what is right.