Words by Sophie
The more I am around women growing and birthing their babies the more I see that we are being let down by how little we speak about the reality of birth. Women are fearful surrounded by the fantasy birth of the TV and Cinema screen. Scary and worrying birth tales from One born every minute and the only stories about birth in the news are terrifying accounts of things that go very wrong (news flash: the news is pretty much always negative!)
The crux of this situation is that in reality birth is pretty boring to watch (unless you are a birth geek like me!) To make it more ‘entertaining’ films and TV depict birth as dramatic and often featuring a very passive birthing woman giving herself over to the power of doctors.
Simply put it makes more entertaining watching but sadly adds to the negative rep of birth. The images depicted show women unable to birth without help and sadly this is the view (myself included first time round) that many women enter pregnancy with.
We have forgotten how we got to this point in the first place. We think birth is unsafe and dangerous when it is actually the safest it has ever been. If we do know this then we think it is because we have doctors who can jump in, intervene and save us from our failing bodies. We do not see the reality: that simply we are healthier because we are cleaner, eat healthier food and understand what our bodies need.
The statistics show that 90-95% of women should be able to give birth without intervention but in this country the C-section rate alone is 25-30% on average. Most women have some form of unnecessary intervention whether it is a sweep when you reach your due date (guess date) or synthetic oxytocin to speed up labour to fit the time frame humans have forced upon the natural act of birth.
Do we try to control the tidal pull, the stages of the moon , when the sun rises and sets? Why then are we trying to control an equally natural event? Do you see how ridiculous that is?
We do not know that we only started to birth in hospital because of the introduction of anaesthetic. We assume we have to go there because birth is dangerous so it is only safe in hospital. What we do not know is that you can actually have safe and wonderful birth at home, in a Midwife led unit, birth centre and hospital. (Birth Place Study 2011) The important thing is to choose where feels right for you.
We do not see that we are being let down by the overuse of the very things introduced to save lives. Why can we not save these interventions for the small percentage of women who need extra help? This fear of birth even extends to some of our caregivers making it harder for them to relax and allow birth to happen.
We do not know that we are only encouraged to lie on our backs, which in fact works against gravity and in most cases our own anatomy, because of a male doctor who realised it was easier and less demeaning for him when attending women in labour.
The reality is that birth can be, and should be wonderful. Birth is a normal, natural event and for most women it can be just that. The extra medical help available is wonderful has helped make it safe for the 10-5%. For those women who do need it, or choose it, make sure you know that all birth is birth and nobody fails.
Women are incredible and so well designed to grow, birth and nurture babies. We need to talk about birth, every single aspect of the amazing act. We need to start doing this for our daughters and sons, this will be one of the best things you can do for them. Open your eyes to the positive birth world, it is huge and is growing. Open the doors to birth again, do not hide it from your children, siblings and friends.
The first time I was pregnant I had no idea that I would birth my placenta after my baby, that my milk would take a few days to flow and that the natural flow of birth is still ok and normal even if it happens outside of the order humans have given it. I was frightened and did not have a clue what I needed on this journey. The wish that I had somehow had my eyes opened before will stay with me for the rest of my life.
This is why I am so honoured to be a Hypnobirthing teacher. The women I teach are the same, they are amazed as I tell them all the wonderful things their bodies can and are doing. They leave after feeling more confident in themselves and I can’t help but think if only this was started earlier in our lives what huge difference this would make to humanity, the view of birth and how women feel about their bodies. Not something to be explained and controlled but something to be accepted, respected and honoured.
If you want to spend the remainder of your pregnancy surrounding yourself with women who talk openly and honestly about birth you are very welcome to join our closed Facebook group Calm Birth Kent: Birth, Breastfeeding and Beyond. You'll find more empowering and truth telling posts from us there.