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Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Breaking the Rules by Linda Crownover-Inch
Many times I have heard this said; “Women have been birthing since the beginning of time. No problem, right?” The passage of time has changed the way women birth.
The mere subject of childbirth is likely to spur conversations all over the room. Such as. “Don’t look at me, I’m not having any more babies. Let me tell you about what happened to me when I had my babies. Or “we need to talk about what’s about to happen to you when you have your baby”. When the birth storytelling and vaginal politics begin it rules nearly every conversation within ear shot of the word “pregnant”.
Childbirth in America now includes unconditional agreements in the language we are using to describe how we bring our babies into this world. Unconsciously we tend to surrender to what we are taught and told about being pregnant, how labor will progress, what will happen while we are pushing out a baby, what will happen to the baby immediately after birth, and finally how hard it will be to have a newborn in the home. Commonly, women are subtly told about what kind of birth experience is acceptable. Women hear how they should act, react, or not act at all from their mothers, sisters, friends, obstetricians, midwives, nurses, and many times war-like birth stories from strangers. All this regardless of the era the birth storyteller may have come from.
With this being said, I am not writing today to tell every person in America to stop sharing childbirth information with friends and family. Nor am I suggesting that anyone’s birth experience should be silenced. I am writing today to suggest that it is time to “break the rules” of how we have been sharing childbirth stories and information. Especially when in the presence of a woman and her partner during their vulnerable childbearing year.
Women will go on telling their birth stories to other women. Men will continue to tell other men about the births they have attended or heard about. Grandmothers, sisters, and friends will continue to do the same. We each have an individual version of childbirth in the way we perceive it. Consider how we could inspire a tremendous change in the future of our American birthing culture by encouraging women and their partners to believe they are prepared for childbirth and beyond with simple conversations about the power of cesarean prevention measures, human rights in childbirth, informed consent, informed refusal, the cascade of interventions, risks verses benefits, natural cervical ripening, a birthing month instead of a due date, uninterrupted birth and how hiring a doula can help in supporting the birth process. By changing the language of childbirth we could change the agreements we are exchanging and reduce childbirth fears by normalizing a healthy environment through options during the childbearing year. We can create this positive change when we make a conscious decision to “break the rules” when engaging in conversations related to pregnancy, labor, birth, breastfeeding, and postpartum.
Mothers and partners arrive at the door of labor, birth and postpartum with a variety of life experiences. Trauma experienced in life can knock at the same door during these very same life changing events. It is also important to fully hear the birth fears or traumas of a mother or partner if and when they are willing to share and express their feelings. Sharing a personal traumatic history with a mother-in-waiting or her partner is not the most ideal way to prepare a woman for childbirth. It will set-up a negative agreement for their upcoming childbirth journey. If you are suffering with anxiety or depression during your childbearing year please know that the way you are feeling is not your fault and you are not alone. The following organizations offer support and information www.postpartuminternational.com or www.postpartumprogress.com.
Let’s “break the rules” through the use of new and gentle language about our own childbearing journey. Together we can make new cultural agreements that assist women and their partners to feel strong and capable before entering the journey of becoming new parents.