Words by Christy
This evening my four year old son came down from his bedroom, tears streaking his face, clutching his little battery torch. “What’s the matter?” I ask, as he’d gone to bed a couple of hours earlier. “I had a bad dream. I don’t like the dark.” He could barely get the words out he was so choked up on his fear. I took his hand and we ventured up to his room, turning on all the lights as we went, illuminating all the dark corners and long shadows. Finally satisfied and settled back in his own bed I told him a story to distract him from his nightmare and slowly he fell back to sleep.
It got me thinking about how nightmares are your own personal worst fear. It’s different for all of us, but ultimately, we fear it because we don’t know the reality, and our mind conjures our worst nightmare to fill the void. There was my little son, petrified by what he couldn’t see in the dark, shining his toy torch and not getting the full picture. It’s interesting isn’t it that sometimes a limited light can actually cast longer, scarier shadows when you’re trying to eliminate the fear by shining the torch on it.
Labour and birth is no different from that dark bedroom. If you don’t know what to expect from reality, your mind will base your expectations on what you’ve seen on TV or heard other people experience (accurate or otherwise) and it will fill in the blanks…with your worst fear.
The more blanks, the more space for those fears to root down.
The only way forward, in this scenario is to switch off the rubbish torch and turn the lights full on. Knowledge. Facts. The real reality, blasts away the fears and it’s never as bad as you suspected. The problem is most women don’t realise they don’t have the facts!
It wasn’t until I was pregnant with my second son and took hypnobirthing classes that I realised what I didn’t know, despite having given birth before. And you know what, I felt outraged. That no one had mentioned this stuff, the basic physiology of birth or told me that it could be a positive, beautiful experience. I had hoped somewhere deep in my core, I had longed for that, but I’d never heard of it in reality, so how could it exist? I had also attended my local free NHS classes, again, no more insight there. Even more outrageous is that I was recently informed by a client of mine that she was told there are no NHS classes in her area – for financial reasons. She there is absolutely NO support for a mother facing labour and birth. What about her midwife I hear your say? Two things, they are so restricted on time, paperwork and workload, they can’t take the time to teach all new mothers about what to expect. Secondly, how can a woman begin to ask questions when she doesn’t know where exactly she has been misled (by the media, by society, by her lifetime of learned expectations).
It is down to us women. To inspire, support and encourage our sisters, our friends and daughters, to find out about labour and birth. So no one is left in that labour room, being led with our eyes shut through a process we need to OWN, in order to accept and embrace our rite of passage into motherhood. It’s the most important journey we will ever take and we can’t be expected to make it without a map, and preferably a welcome party on the other side.
If you’d like to know more about how I can help you turn on the lights, get informed and OWN your journey into motherhood contact me through our website. On facebook? Come and join our group Calm Birth Kent!