ABOUT: RECLAIMING BIRTH
Imagine you are preparing for the Olympics and your aim is gold. In the daily lead up to the games during conversations and in newspapers you read and television & films you watch you are exposed to detailed accounts of other athletes losing and dreadful past accidents in your particular race. Your mind starts to fill with these images and fear becomes a regular visitor. Your many consultations with professionals (supposed experts) are filled with the dire consequences of possible problems especially if you don’t adhere to their way of competing. You leave their offices feeling powerless and worried. Eventually you stop training deciding to rely solely on their guarantee of assistance. Friends and family only confirm your fears with their own regaling of hideous accounts of the same race. The day comes and you feel extremely stressed and apprehensive about it and your ability. The race begins and the muscles designed to power you, falter because your tension and fear constrict them. Your coach and manager decide its best if they take over for you. Bummer.
In reality athletes are groomed to win. They use their physiology to push their bodies and achieve incredible feats. Everyone around them knows that with training and preparation they can compete at the top. Their support team of experts fill them with positive advice and techniques and friends & family shower them with support and love.
Why does the first scenario happen to the pregnant woman and not the second?
Birth is profitable. Over the last hundred years multinational pharmaceutical and medical equipment companies, hospitals, and the medical establishment have created a multibillion-dollar profitable industry.
Unfortunately this does not translate to better care for women. In America the biggest birth spender (35 billion a year) where the majority of women deliver babies in hospitals filled with machines, attached to electrodes and injected with all manner of drugs, giving birth has not become safer. It is 32nd in the world for infant mortality and the maternal death rate is actually rising. Part of this alarming rise in deaths is linked to the massive increase in caesareans. The World Health Organisation states clearly that caesareans should only make up 10-15% of deliveries and then because of serious medical reasons. In America 30% of deliveries are caesarean.
The efficiently named ‘active management’ of birth creates what Sheila Kitzinger prolific author and birth campaigner calls the domino effect of intervention. When pregnant women, particularly older mothers are “…treated as high risk… with induction of labour, continuous electronic fetal monitoring, and instrumental delivery or Caesarean section, they become high risk”.
Each labour is governed by an intricate and unique set of biochemical rhythms and therefore without time or comparison. Yet ‘active management’ or the quest for profit effectively over rides this without regard to childbirths’ inherent natural process or shape. It becomes owned by doctors with time and perceived risks governing the shape and form of women’s bodies ability to birth.
The quest for profit is coupled by the mass media’s depiction of birth and its ensuing effect on society. Invariably birth is portrayed as something traumatic to be feared: a serious dramatic emergency room caesarean, a home birth ending in the death of the mother or the screen filled with a screaming woman lying down on a bed struggling, fighting to give birth. (Of course screaming and lying down in bed are two things that just gotta cause problems. Lying down became fashionable a couple of hundred years ago when some king in France wanted to watch his wife give birth so the doctor for his convenience got her to lie down as the king peeped from behind a curtain. Up until then in almost every image in ancient art from the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and Asia…. women are depicted as giving birth squatting or standing but not lying down).
Reinforced by these popular culture images are the true stories told to us by friends and family. Although these stories are indeed true and deeply affecting they need to be told in the context of the last one hundred years of medicalisation of childbirth and the subsequent disengagement from natural safe techniques in pregnancy and birth flow.
These traumatic images implanted in our brains build our perception before we even think about having children; they sit waiting to emerge as fundamental truths…horrible and scary.
When we are fearful the ancient reptilian part of our brain kicks in and readies our body to fight or flight. Our bodies are only trying to protect us but the very muscles designed to give birth actually tense blocking the natural flow producing complications and the domino effect of intervention begins.
Ideally birth happens in a safe quiet dark space with the mother and baby surrounded by love and support. The woman trusts her body and baby to do what millions of years of evolution have designed. Prior to birth she has prepared not only her body but also her mind to create a beautiful birth for her and baby.
The new age movement extol the power of positive thinking and this is backed up by scientific studies, which show it has significant effects on the brain.
Although positive thinking and visualisations about giving birth are important its not just about creating positive thoughts out of nothing in reaction to our fear…
It’s about replacing false and fear inducing information with the truth: Women are designed perfectly helped along by babies’ innate understanding and cooperation in a unique dance of love to give birth naturally without intervention or complications. Birth is a natural, normal, safe, wondrous process in fact call me biased but that and pregnancy comes close to being the most amazing thing on earth.
So it’s about re-learning and re-applying techniques used across the ages and cultures to our pregnancies and birthing to enhance our natural power and capabilities. The women’s stories in this site like thousands of years of women’s stories, pass on this knowledge without the filtering and distortion of the multi billion-dollar profit machine. Real experiences and a profound understanding of the world and our lives within it validate these stories.
They are from women of all cultures, all ages, women who birthed fifty years ago or who birthed last week.
The site has no commercial or profit driven affiliation and no one is paid for the stories. Contributors are motivated by their generous, courageous and loving decision to share their story with you.