When Birth Isn’t "A Seen On TV”
Updated: Apr 29, 2019
Labor is a naturally occurring process in women. Before the medicalization of birth in the 1900s: women frequently saw humans and animals give birth. When women became pregnant they were prepared for what was to come - birth! The birthing woman had tools to cope with contractions. She was aware of how things typically progressed and had confidence in her ability to labor - why wouldn't she? She was attended to by women whom she knew, in an environment that she was familiar with, and where she could move around.
Our experience today is quite different. Our exposure to birth is from scenes in FRIENDS, Knocked Up, or Monty Python or from our friend's traumatic tales. We birth in hospitals which for most women evoke memories of sick loved ones. Instead of confidence in their ability, women today say they are nervous about pain during childbirth, pooping on the table, tearing, their ability to cope with pain, and fear that something will go wrong medically.
It might seem as though fear of childbirth is okay or normal. But fear impacts the birth process. The mind and body are connected. Fear makes contractions painful rather than 'strong', it makes muscles clench, rather than relax. You need relaxed muscles in order for contractions to work. A fearful mother means a slower labor. And in many hospital settings, the longer labor takes, the higher your likelihood of having medical interventions. Luckily, we aren’t in the village or shtetl and we have medical interventions when necessary in order to have a healthy mom and baby. But you know what matters just as much: a positive experience in birth. Regardless of your planned or unplanned medical interventions, how you feel about you labor matters! Research shows, it’s not only a traumatic event in labor that can cause PTSD for postpartum women but how they view their labor.
So what can we do?
We likely won't witness friends, family and animals give birth. And I’m not advocating for a homebirth if it’s not your ideal birth scenario. However, women deserve to feel unafraid. We can't go on doubting our ability to birth. We need to believe in our bodies, in our evolutionary and biological ability to birth a baby that our bodies grew. We should get informed on what to expect, how to cope, and what’s a normal event in birth. We need to ensure that our partners are informed, as their fear and concern is easily transmitted to women in labor. We can surround ourselves with a team who trusts us and treats our birth as a naturally occurring process in our bodies.
What did you do to get informed? What are you doing to get informed? Are you overwhelmed with options? Or don't know where to begin looking? Do you need guidance?