As a modern feminist, former history student, and huge advocate of womens’ rights I have to say it makes me a bit sad when I read about the huge numbers of women who have resigned themselves to a painful birth. Our society as a whole is oppressing women, keeping a thumb pressed firmly down on them, by reframing what could be the MOST empowering experience of a woman’s life and making it into some horrible and painful ordeal.
What I really wish is that the women (and men) of the world, could reframe birth and truly think of it as the amazing, intense, life giving & altering, hugely empowering, mysterious experience that it is. If we stop thinking about pain and trauma we can let go of obsessions with pharmaceutical births and all their associated complications and risks.
For instance, epidurals (to relieve PAIN!) come with a staggering number of possible complications:
- blood pressure dropping,
- labour slowing
- increased risk of needing caesarean
- increase in maternal body temperature with associated increase in baby’s heart rate which could be interpreted as a sign of fetal distress,
- and MANY others.
And that is just one form of medicalized birth. The cornucopia of pharmaceutical choices doctors have in terms of ‘managing labour’ is staggering, and with these choices comes an equally staggering number of risks and side effects.
Once we let go of pain and our obsessive focus on relieving it, natural births then become an easy extension of our cultural confidence in womens’ ability to birth, and birthing women (and their wishes) can be taken seriously.
No longer will womens’ ability to ‘tolerate the pain’ of labour be the central idea propelling her birth, but the entire experience will be allowed to unfold and progress at the pace that is perfect for her body, and we can welcome the natural highs and lows that happen in normal labours. I can only hope that one day society realizes that this process has been figured out over thousands and thousands of years and tinkering with the details so extensively is kind of pointless.
If we just let birth happen, guess what? IT WILL!
If we start focusing on the AMAZING things that are happening to us, and surround ourselves with positivity we can experience labour and birth as a transformative, truly transcendent experience. We can create the empowered birth culture we want to be immersed in and toss aside the pain-centric birth culture of the past.
Based on my interpretation of research on ancient civilizations (particularly research on Catal Hoyuk in modern day Turkey: refer to here & here for details on what I’m talking about), I believe that for most of human history birth was celebrated for the life-giving mystery that it is and women were revered and respected for their strength and ability to capably bring forth life. Let’s bring back that reverence and give our bodies and the experience the respect that they both deserve. Let’s celebrate this wonderful, miraculous thing we get to do by bringing new little lives into this world!
What I want to say to women everywhere who are seeking a natural birth experience:
You are POWERFUL!
You have the ability to birth, and your gorgeous baby will be the sweetest REWARD!
You can ENJOY the intensity and thrill of birth!
Your body already KNOWS what to do, have CONFIDENCE in this innate ability!
You are a GODDESS!
Do you think we can change our birth culture? What else needs to be done? Share with us in the comments below!
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