What If?

Most times when people think of the what ifs in labor it is always the negative.  Even myself, I always think negatively at what “could” happen but rarely does.

On twitter, I followed a series of tweets from @tophat8855 who is one of my best UC people on twitter.  I love her tweets anyway, but they always make me think.

Her series started with:

“Going to post a few what-ifs for labor :)”

I was very curious since she is a UC mom and was curious what her what ifs would be. And I was pleasantly surprised 🙂

  • What if the baby is in the most perfect position for its head and my pelvis?
  • What if my contractions are 100% effective?
  • What if I dilate evenly and within the best timeline for my baby and body?
  • What if the placenta comes out whole and healthy?
  • What if my body controls my postpartum bleeding?
  • What if this baby takes to breastfeeding like a fish to water?
  • What if the people around me are supportive and say exactly what I need to hear?
  • What if I find that I am stronger than I thought?

(You can view Tophat’s blog HERE, it is a wealth of information, and I just love it! I kind of stalk it all the time haha)

After I thought about it for a bit, I came up with a few or my own.  They aren’t as awesome as hers, but I like them.

  • What if my baby grows and births and feeds without a problem?
  • What if my scar doesn’t separate?
  • What if I don’t tear?
  • What if my baby doesn’t need resuscitation?
  • What if I work with my contractions?
  • What if my baby implants in a healthy part of my uterus?
  • What if I trust my body?
  • What if I have a painless labor?
  • What if I have an orgasm during labor?

It is an interesting thought process.  Do you have any what ifs for labor?  Let go of the fear and think of what happens in 98% of all birth.  Come up with anything?

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Unassisted Birth: Part Six

You can read Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, and Part Five first if you wish 🙂

Hopefully this is the last official segment, I have really loved writing it, and sad to see it end.  I will continue to post about Unassisted Birth (freebirth) but not in this series/review of the Laura Shanley book.

Enjoy!

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In the very beginning of her book she discusses the tribal mentality of birth.  Where does your mind turn to when I say tribal?  My husband told me to use a different words since tribal normally means third world and sub-par when in fact it just means a sense of community and maybe not the same first world beliefs we have now.  It doesn’t mean they are less advanced or civilized, it is just a tight community with the same beliefs and structure, and they do what works for them.  Nothing derogatory, and sometimes looking at these tribal communities can open up so many eyes and minds about why birth is so misunderstood in our culture and not theirs.

Many people have heard stories about women in less technologically developed cultures giving birth quickly and easily as well.  A friend of mine was actually in Korea in the 1960s said he saw a pregnant Korean woman working in the rice fields one day.  She walked over to the edge of the field, squatted down, caught her baby, strapped it on her back and was back picking rice minutes later.  Several people watched the birth from a distance, but no one helped or interfered in any way.  She did it quietly, by herself. – Shanley, 4

I have heard a lot of stories like this.  Grantley Dick-Read was called to the birth of a lower class woman in England, and he saw she had no fear, no pain at all.  He asked if she was feeling pain, and she responded back with a question of “Is it supposed to?”  Ever since I have wondered if it is just our idea of pain that makes labor painful.

Women in these “third world countries” and tribal communities don’t birth in pain.  They know when their labor starts and when it is time to push, but never is it in pain or fear.  It is just something they do.

In the Amish community, it is the same way.  Some do have midwives attend, like the Amish community outside The Farm in Tennessee, but they are homebirthers.  Penny Armstrong wrote in her book A Wise Birth:

I was struck by the casual, comfortable movements of the women laboring in their kitchen and giving birth among the quilts.  Having based much of my assessment of myself as a practitioner on my ability to respond swifty and accurately to emergency situations, I was undone by the infrequency of the need for me to display my masterly strokes.  Birth appeared to be another animal out in the country.  Labors were shorter than I was accustomed to.  Pain appeared to be less severe.  Cuts and tears fewer.  Hemorrhage controlled.  Babies did not need my suctioning devices or my tubes pressed down their throats; they gurgled when they were born and began to breathe.  Their mothers took them to their breasts and nursed without much complication.  If problems did arise anytime during a birth, most of them appeared to resolve themselves in short order.  I had an eerie sense of unreality.  The births had no only power, but grace and simplicity.

I am always amazed when midwives have never seen an unhindered peaceful birth.  That is the point they are there.  And when they suction baby, rub baby, even just touch baby, they are hindering this process.  Same with the mother.  Just leave her alone to her instincts and birth.  Just let her be!

S. Boyd Eaton, in The Paleolithic Prescription, wrote about a typical birth in !Kung san village in Africa’s Kalahari Desert:

A woman feels the initial stages of labor and makes no comment, leave the village quietly when birth seems imminent – taking along, if necessary, a young child – walks a few hundred yards, finds an area in the shade, clears it, arranges a soft bed of leaves, and gives birth, while squatting or lying on her side – on her own.  Unusual even for other hunters and gatherers, solo birth for !Kung san women is nevertheless an ideal : 35% of women attain it by their third birth and the majority do on subsequent births.  Showing no fear and not screaming out, they believe enhances the ease and safety of delivery.

As I said in Part Four, fear slows labor by taking blood away from the uterus.  It also increases pain because the uterus isn’t receiving oxygen.  It truly is just another muscle.  Screaming closes everything and tightens it, thus also causing more pain.

Judith Goldsmith discusses similar stories in Childbirth Wisdom from the World’s Oldest Societies. She compiled accounts of scientists, anthropologists, and historians who had observed tribal birth for over 400 years.  In most of her compilation she notes that the majority of tribal women deliver their own children.

There are numerous societies where women gave birth with no assistance at all.  Among the Chukchee of Siberia, for example, where babies were born with little trouble, the birthing woman attended completely to her own needs and those of her newborn infant.  She cut the umbilical cord and disposed of the placenta herself.  During the birth, the only other person present was an older woman, who aided the mother in the case of absolute necessity … The Fulani woman of Africa also birthed without expecting any assistance, catching the infant as it was born in her own hands – Goldsmith, 23-24

How wonderful would it be to just “be” during labor?  Not have to worry about anyone else in the room but yourself and your child?  To attend to your own needs?  To truly let go of all your fear, and just do what needs to be done, painlessly and unhindered?

Goldsmith also stated that infant mortality, although a little higher than our infant mortality didn’t occur during childbirth.  It occured in the first year of life mainly from malnutrition.  The births were rarely fatal to mother or infant.

A visitor to North America in 1641 wrote that the natives were rarely sick in childbirth, nor did any of them die either during or after the birth.  Another observer noted in 1884 that accidents in childbirth rarely occurred.  A physician who spent eight years living with the Canadian Indians reported he knew of no deaths from childbirth.  People who observed tribal births in Fiji, Uganda, and Argentina also claimed that death during childbirth was rare.

Complications normally associated with pregnancy and childbirth are usually quite uncommon in tribal societies.  A man who observed the Arikara of North Dakota during the 1930s noted there was no tubal or abdominal pregnancy, no placenta previa, no eclampsia, and no premature birth (except in case of an accident).  Phlebitis (inflammation of a vein) only occurred after tribal women became exposed to more “progressive” cultures. – Shanley, 7

Most of the fears in pregnancy are along the lines of things never seen in tribal culture.  Placenta Previa being a big one.  I know I wanted to get an ultrasound to find out if I had previa, just to make sure.  Another thing is premature birth.  So many babies are born prematurely.  Yes, most of them survive, and I am so glad we have the technology to help them.

However, we are hurting ourselves.  Back in the day, women that couldn’t birth, didn’t.  Women that had premature births didn’t pass on the genes for it.  Women who couldn’t get pregnant didn’t get pregnant.  When technology stepped in, we saved many of these babies, and have made our species weaker.

Tribal women didn’t have issues like this because they didn’t have worries or cares.  They had to stay strong to survive.  They didn’t fear that birth was painful or that bad things would happen.  They just did what was necessary to have their baby.  And they did it alone.

The tribal women, in a sense, has a consciousness that lies between that of the animal and that of the modern Western woman.  Her births are successful for several reasons.  She has not yet developed beliefs in fear, shame, and guilt, and therefore is free from their devastating consequences.  In addition to this, like the cat in the closet, she is generally left alone.  This privacy not only allows her body to perform its task easily because it is unhampered by outside interventions, it also allows her psychologically to reconnect with her inner self.  The inner self speaks to her – just as it does to the Western woman – through her dreams, impulses, and intuition.  The difference is, she listens. – Shanley, 9

Dreams can be important.  They can show you problems that might arise, or show you what your innermost fears are.  A woman could dream about having her baby come out through her stomach, and not realizing that is a fear or a thought, pushes it aside.  Most of these women end up having cesarean deliveries from this unknown fear.  Going with our intuition, our dreams, and our impulses can make a painless birth and one that is absolutely perfect for mother and baby.

Birthing without medical assistance is accomplished not by some willful eccentricity, but with the natural strength and sanctity that issue from unbroken trust in the process of life.  Enablement comes from doing, merging inspiration and action into a whole… The roots of fear are manmade, but the roots of intuition go deeper than that; following one’s heart unfetters the potential to become an artist in the greatest sense of the word. – Stephen and Kathy Lanzalotta, Two Attune

Letting go of manmade fear can not only open you up to a better option, but can open your entire life up to more beautiful things.

Autonomy means independence.  The term is generally used by social scientists, theologians or psychiatrists to refer to the individuated, self-actualized or authentic human being, a self-governing and self-defining person, subject primarily to his own laws of being and deeply sensed goals and values.  This does not mean that autonomous individuals reject social customs out of hand, but rather that their focus of control, their reference point for decision making, rests within… Autonomous persons consciously author their own lives. – Marsha Sinetar, Living Happily Ever After

Being your own person can helps so much in your life.  You can make your own decisions, you can be your own person.  And in birth, you can do only what you need to do.  You don’t have anyone to impress, you don’t have anyone to let down, you can do things how YOU want them, not how anyone else does.

Solitude, it appears, may actually be beneficial to the laboring woman.  When she has no overly concerned observers to “comfort” her, she can be free to look within herself for support and direction. – Shanley, 107

You can truly do what YOU need to do.  Not be told what works, and what may not.  Just follow your own wants and needs.

As with (Michael) Odent, (Pat) Carter believed a woman should obey her instincts and seek seclusion – not out of mistrust of others, but rather out of a trust for herself. – Shanley, 111

Many people would think that birthing alone is unfair to the father, and unfair to the mother if something goes wrong.  Autonomous birth isn’t about cutting anyone out.  Autonomous birth is about birthing the least painful way and how you want to birth.  Not having anyone watch, not having anyone telling you what to do, or worrying and messing with the vibes of labor.

However:

Giving birth autonomously, as Carter states, does not necessarily preclude the presence of others.  What’s important is that the laboring woman follow her instincts and give birth in the way that she desires. – Shanley, 111

And the best part is that when a couple is truly in it for each other, they aren’t individuals.  They are a couple.

When the mother-to-be is alone with the baby’s father and he seems to really share the emotions, leaving our world at the same time as his wife – a scene that would have been considered unbelievable fifty years ago – it is also possible that the birth will be too long away or too difficult.  In this case, once more, nobody behaves like an observer.  It is not the woman who is giving birth; it is the couple. – Michael Odent, The Nature of Birth and Breastfeeding, 23-24

The couple is together in the labor zone.  Completely together.

When all is said and done, however, birth is still a solitary act – one individual giving birth to another.  True, we are all parts of a whole, but we are individuals nevertheless.  Only when we lovingly accept and embrace our individuality can we truly perform miraculous acts.  – Shanley, 112

Birth is about bringing another person into the world.  No one but the woman can do this if she has a natural, unhindered delivery.  It is all her.  Yes, some women love support and providers, but to have a truly painless delivery, it needs to be about her.

This book opened my eyes to so many new ideas.  I am more open to Freebirth than I ever was before.

Women need to know there is another option out there for them.  They need to know that birth isn’t supposed to be painful.  They need to know that the fears of others and their beliefs are what makes it painful and a “trial”.  Labor isn’t supposed to be hard.

We need to get back to the tribal mentality.  We need to instinctively believe that it is possible to have a beautiful birth.  Only then will we be able to have truly beautiful births where no providers are needed.  Only then will we be able to birth our children in confidence instead of pain.

We need to let go of our beliefs.

Can women in the United States truly let go and have the painless births that were meant to be?  Let go of the worry and anxiety that something will go wrong?

Will we ever get to that point again?  Or have we come to far trusting science rather than ourselves?

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For more information on Laura Shanley, visit her site

You can also follow these great tweeps on twitter: @tophat8855 @toniraquel @birthroutes

Unassisted Birth – Part Five

This is so much longer than I intended, but I would rather be thorough than skip things, especially with how taboo Freebirth is.

Part 6 will be up later and will close up the series/review.

You can read Part One, Part Two, Part Three, and Part Four first you wish.

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When you let go of all the negative beliefs that you have surrounding not only birth but yourself in general, you are more open to see the happy parts of life and have a successful life (and birth) doing so.

Since the negative beliefs need to be filled in, there are many things to fill them in with.

The first is Faith.  Whether it is a faith in a diety or faith in yourself, faith is needed to know that you can do it.

Faith, however, is more than simply believing in God.  It is trusting in the natural workings of the body.  In Childbirth Without Fear Grantley Dick-Read writes, “A woman must remember that faith is not only an ethical and emotional acquisition, but a state of mind which creates within the body physical harmony of the activities of living which maintain the highest standard of health and resistance to disease” (235).  Our faith, or lack of it, literally causes us to be healthy or sick. – Shanley 71

A lot of people discuss your aura or chi or a whole bunch of other things, and all it comes down to is harmony within yourself.  Having faith in yourself.

Since God has dealt to every man a measure of faith – and all we need to move a mountain is a mustard seed’s worth – we don’t need to worry about whether we have faith or not.  All we need to do is to decide to apply the faith we already have in the right direction. – Don Gossett, What You Say Is What You Get, 31-32

If you can believe, truly believe, that you can birth naturally and without pain, you are another step closer to truly giving birth without pain.  It is more than just thinking positively.  This is a true belief that your body can do this.

The second is Forgiveness.

Physician Bernie Siegel gives numerous instances in his book Love, Medicine, and Miracles of people who have healed themselves of supposedly terminal cancer by letting go of hatred they have been harboring toward themselves and others.  Ina May Gaskin writes in Spiritual Midwifery about a woman whose labor had stalled until she realized she was angry with the child’s father, who had deserted her.  When she was able to let go of her anger, she was able to let go of her baby.  This is because hatred consumes our energy, and forgiveness frees it. – Shanley, 73

Many people believe that forgiveness is the coward’s way out.  However, forgiveness is so much more than doing nothing, and so much more important than getting even or getting revenge.  Forgiveness requires that you let go of all of your anger, that you let the past be the past and not impact the future.  Yes, things in the past shape us, and it can be hard to forgive, but forgiveness is what makes us whole.

Forgiving ourselves and others is just another thing we need to learn to do in our lives so we can positively move forward.

The third is Hope.

Hope is the expectation that our faith will be rewarded.  It is the opposite of cynicism, dread, and despair.

Today, many people speak of false hope.  If we are realistic, they say, we will not believe in miracles.  Isn’t life itself a miracle however?  Perhaps hope has been planted in us as surely as seeds have been planted in the earth.  If a seed can grow into a beautiful rose, is it unrealistic to have hope that our dreams can become reality?  “You are never given a wish,” writes author Richard Bach, “without also being given the power to make it true.  You may have to work for it, however” – Shanley, 73

So many speak of the American Dream.  And in this day and age, so many people think it is something you are entitled to, that you don’t have to work for it.  So many kids now days have zero work ethic because they are given everything.

Yes, hope is just one half of attaining something.  It is the basic dream and then the work needs to follow it to make sure it comes true.  When you have hope, you are able to reach for something attainable.

You can hope to have a painless birth, but that is only part of the process.  Hope replaces most dread, and helps you visualize the birth you want.

The fourth is Patience.

Patience, writes Gerald Heard, is a creative waiting.  It is not a lying about, waiting for destiny to do its worst.  Instead, it is a trusting that, in time, what we have desired will come to pass. – Shanley, 73

Many people have a problem with being patient.  Most times this magnifies in the idea that they need to know the sex of their child while pregnant so they can “prepare”.  Or planning their entire life so they know what they need to do.  And when you have children, patience is maginified as another way to step away and not get angry with them when it is a long cranky day.

Our impatience with Nature, with our fellows and with ourselves, is always spoiling the beauty of design God would otherwise show us every moment.  All work has its rhythm: wine, wood, stone, all have their tempo, the time they take to season, to mature.  And most of all, our souls. – Gerald Heard, Prayers and Meditations, 71

Patience can also be considered a vulnerability to life.  Trusting that things will work out instead of taking an active stance in the problem.  Most people hate to be vulnerable to others, especially in our day and age where you want to be self-sufficient.  Vulnerability always causes a problem, even if it is only in our mind.  We have heard to many times that people can’t be trusted, so even if we do find one that can be, we don’t want to give our trust and be vulnerable with them.

Especially in birth women hate to feel vulnerable.  They don’t like to let go and just be, because it shows a side that most people don’t like to show.  When you have patience with yourself and trust, you are one more step closer to having the beautiful painless birth you want.

The fifth is Persistence.

All too often we start out on our path full of enthusiasm and commitment.  When we begin to encounter resistance, however, many of us simply give up, unaware of how closer we may have been to reaching our goal.

Persistence is the sister of patience.  Patience alone will not carry us through.  We must be persistently patient if we are to accomplish our goal. – Shanley, 74

Nowdays quitting before finishing projects is just considered ADD or ADHD, a medical condition.  We medicate to regulate it, instead of persisting to finish what we start.

Realizing that being persistent to get the birth you want doesn’t make you crazy and irrational.  It means you understand what you want and are going your own way to get it.

The sixth is Humility.

If someone says they are humble, they aren’t.  That simple.

True humility is based on self-respect.  It is having enough confidence in ourselves to be able to admit that there are others in this world whose knowledge surpasses our own. – Shanley 74

Knowing your own limits and knowing there are others that are smarter and more compelled is one of the steps to true humility.  Realizing that sometimes you do need help, can make for a beautiful birth experience.

The seventh is Love.

Love is often confused with idolatry.  We place the objects of our affection on a pedestal and claim they are something that we are not.  True love, however, necessitates loving ourselves first – not in an egotistical sense, but in a humble self–respecting manner. – Shanley, 75

I do believe that you must love yourself before you can truly love another.  The love most people have now is more of a controlling type of love.  I am guilty of this too.  Loving our partner so we try to control how they learn, what job they have, forcing them to do something they don’t want to take care of family or friends.  This isn’t true love.

We need to have respect for them, and know that they control their own life.  Even if we are married to them.  We need to love them for who they are, not who we want them to be.

The eight is Courage.

A lot of people tell me I am brave or courageous for wanting a freebirth.  And yet, it has nothing to do with courage.  Yes, you must have courage to stand up against others, specifically about how birth should be, and you have to be able to keep that courage up to keep fighting.

However, our most formidable opponent is us.  We have to have courage to stand against our fears and come out on the other side.  We need to have the courage to change our views, even if we are afraid.  The courage to stand up to ourselves.

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The first step to creating what we desire is to believe that it is possible.  The next step is to imagine that it is already a part of our reality.  Daily visualizations, combined with belief suggestions or affirmations, are tools we can use to change our lives. – Shanley, 76

Instead of focusing on the negative, we need to only focus on the positive.  Yes, things go wrong, but what good is it to focus purely on that?  All that does is bring up fear, and fear can control your life, especially your birth.

I refused to take the “realistic” approach and focus on all the things that could go wrong, and instead focused on what could go right.  I wasn’t ignorant of my body’s basic physiology; however, I didn’t concern myself with the technical aspects of birth.  (Physicians, for instance, have an intellectual understanding of the process of digestion, yet it doesn’t prevent them from having one of the highest ulcer rates of any profession.)  I never imagined myself timing contractions or checking to see how dilated I was.  I simply had faith that my body would give birth in its own time.  Consequently, the births went according to my desires. – Shanley, 76

Focusing on the good doesn’t mean you are ignorant.  Focusing on the good doesn’t mean you don’t understand the process.  Focusing on the good purely means you have a basis for a good birth.  Your beliefs impact your thoughts and actions more than you know.  Even the beliefs you don’t know you have.

Can women give up their fears and focus on the positive instead of the negative?  Is it possible for women that are as self-conscious and worried as our culture ever learn to put the mental state of themselves aside and truly just trust their instincts?

Unassisted Birth – Part Four

You can read Part One, Part Two, and Part Three first 🙂

This is a continuance of the post from yesterday, and the next post will be the second to last installment before the final post and the finale.  And I apologize beforehand, this will probably be the longest post of the series as there is quite a bit to cover before the next two posts.  I wish I had known there was this much to type and I would have written the series in a more intense way with more spacing and known it would be about six posts long :).

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Fear, and especially unrecognized life stress, can constrict the life breathing passageways, as well as the birth-giving passageways of the body.  Visualizing the labor process with positive suggestion for ability to birth can be instrumental in inspiring a change of attitude in particular women. – Gayle Peterson, Birthing Normally, 39

Now, most knowledgeable natural birth advocates know that fear inhibits labor.  Even having unknown stress, or subconscious worry can make your labor stall, and it appears that failure to progess is true, and a cesarean or pitocin is the only way to have your child.  When in truth what is holding you back is something emotional.

Some women don’t dilate because of something that happened in their past, like their mother died in childbirth, or they are unhappy with the situation with their partner.  The majority of the time it can be worked through during labor by just talking or trying to rectify the situation.  Sometimes it takes more extensive work, but emotional issues are one of the majority of ways that labor stalls.

The biggest problem is, is that hospitals and some midwives don’t believe in emotional problems and think stalling labor is just another issue they need to fix with medication or surgery.  So instead of trying to find out why a woman is “stalled” at 5 cms for 6 hours, they instantly turn to the need for pitocin to speed things up.  Sure, sometimes this works, but the majority of time it just leads to an unnecessary cesarean since the issues making the labor stall haven’t been taken care of.

There are three main negative beliefs that can inhibit labor and make it painful for a woman.  As I said in part three of these posts, I truly believe that a painless labor is achievable by every woman.

The first negative belief is fear.

I’m sure everyone knows about the fight or flight reflex that every person has.  When they encounter danger, instinctively they can decide whether to fight or run.  When this happens, blood empties from nonessential parts of your body into the parts you will need.  Your blood enters your arms and legs mainly to strengthen you and enable you to run faster.  This is why when people are afraid they turn “white as a sheet” and all the blood rushes out of their face.

And, since blood rushes out of nonessential organs, and the uterus is considered nonessential, even if you are pregnant, the blood rushes out, causing it to work harder on less fuel, which can slow labor and cause fetal distress since new oxygen isn’t being rushed to the uterus.  Some surgeons have actually performed cesareans and swear the uterus is so white it hasn’t received blood in hours.

Grantley Dick-Read wrote that the uterus of a frightened woman in labor is literally white.  Pain, he said, is not a normal consequence of labor.  It only comes about when the uterus is deprived of its fuel: blood and oxygen.  Without fuel, it cannot function – or rather, cannot function well – nor can waste products be carried away properly.  Fear also restricts the natural expulsive movements of the uterine muscles.  A fearful woman in labor tightens her uterine as well as vaginal muscles, transforming the painless simple act of childbirth into something painful and difficult. – Shanley, 68

Ina May Gaskin discussed this many times.  Her well known sphincter law, where in fear everything closes from your anus and urethra and also includes your cervix and vagina.  You wouldn’t expect most people to be able to pass their bowels with someone watching them or even with people sticking their fingers in their to hold it open, and yet we expect pregnant women to labor and have their children like this daily.

Just being in the presence of a medical professional can bring out this fear of labor.  Fear that something will go wrong, even if you believe their presence is better in case it does.  However in the end it just comes back down to the fact you are scared of the bad “what if’s” so you have a medical professional just in case.  You can’t let go of this fear in the presence of a professional.  Even just seeing them could bring the insecurities and beliefs to the surface.  To truly let go of the fear that something will go wrong, you need to instinctively trust that your body knows what to do, and trust yourself to handle the things that rarely go wrong, or to know when it is beyond your scope of control.

You know your body better than anyone else.  You may not have ever felt your cervix or even your vulva, never done a breast self-exam, never felt for your uterus, but it is your body.  You instinctively know if something feels off.  You know if something feels wrong.  You know if something feels different.  No one else can feel those except you.  It is all you, and no one else.

Peterson adds that, when the “flight/fight mechanism” (as it is called) is activated because of fear, the body ceases to produce oxytocin, the hormone necessary for uterine contractions to occur.  This is actually a protective mechanism also, she writes for if a woman in the wild were in a dangerous situation she would certainly want her labor to cease.  For the modern Western woman, however, fear has become an undesirable impediment. – Shanley, 68

If a woman becomes afraid and her labor stops, instead of understanding why this happened or talking her through it, a synthetic form of oxytocin is given.  Women aren’t allowed to feel afraid in their labors.  If they do and it stops, they are given something else to keep labor going.  Not only is this completely unnatural and against the body’s natural defense mechanism, it uses medication instead of understanding to “fix” a broken labor.

Getting rid of your fear is one of the first steps to having a beautiful labor.  And for the majority of women, that comes down to the fear of something going wrong.  Letting it go and basically understanding that 97% of the time it is nothing can be the very first step to having a painless and easy labor.

The second thing to let go of is shame.

Our culture is extremely self-conscious.  Mostly about looks and beauty, which stems from nowhere.  We put ourselves down because we aren’t as “pretty” as others, or aren’t as “skinny” as others.  So many things stem from this self-consciousness, but those that truly believe they themselves are beautiful, inside and out, they just shine.  They don’t care about what others believe, they are just themselves.

In our culture of plastic surgery and make-up, and appearances, we have forgotten what it is like to be purely happy with ourselves, even around those that are “better” than we are.  However, if you think everyone is beautiful and no one looks better than anyone else, there is no better or worse.  Everyone is their own version of beautiful.  There is no shame in appearance.

There is nothing shameful about the human body.  Absolutely nothing.

The emergence of shame in humankind’s evolving self-consciousness is depicted in the Bible in the myth of Adam and Eve.  Originally they were in a state of bliss, at one with God: “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25).  When they became self-conscious – symbolized by eating from the Tree of Knowledge – they became shameful and covered themselves with fig leaves.  In reality, humankind did not become shameful.  It believed that it did, however, and so suffered the consequences. – Shanley, 68

Shame is a concept that is all in our mind.  It comes from judging and anger.  And partly fear of what others will think.

Another concept of shame is the idea of sexuality.  Either people throw sex in your face by being very open, which can be seen as just a way to hide their shame, or they are embarrassed by the fact that they have sex.  All our lives, especially in my religion, sex is considered special and sacred, and if outside marriage it is considered shameful and dirty.  Now, I do believe that sex is best left for marriage, but having sex outside of it doesn’t make it shameful.  People have the choice to do what they will.

If a woman believes her sexuality is shameful, she will find it difficult to spread her legs and give birth to a child who is the result of sex.  However, not only is conception sexual; birth is, as well. – Shanley, 69

Women giving birth make the same noises that women having great sex make.  Whether they are having an orgasm during childbirth or not.  The birth I attended in March, if someone had walked by the window, they would have sworn she was having the best sex of her life.

For a lot of women, and even some men, when they make these noises in labor and they learn they are, they stop.  They become embarrassed that they are emitting those sounds when they are the same sounds they use during sex.  The sounds are construed as shameful and unnecessary.

Even in most childbirth classes you are taught to breathe through contractions, rarely to moan.  Yes, breathing is great, but when a woman is in labor, and can feel it, she moans instinctively.  Saying it is shameful cuts out instinct and can make childbirth that much harder.

Several years ago I wondered what the difference was between an orgasm and a contractoin.  In both cases the uterus is contracting.  When I called a nurse and posed the question to her, she replied, “One hurts and the other feels good”(!).  In researching the matter further, I discovered that the two experiences differ only in intensity.  In fact, some women experience labor as a series of orgasms, rather than a series of painful contractions. -Shanley, 69

Is there really a difference between a contraction and orgasm?  As I stated previously, a contraction and an orgasm use the same muscles and nerves.  Why are the perceived so differently?  Why is one pain and the other pleasure?

One man wrote about the birth of his child and discussed the crowing:

As the baby crowned, I knew from Jean’s look and sounds that she was having an explosive orgasm, which rolled on and on.  What a long way from the pain and agony of conventional myth!  Years later we asked a sympathetic doctor about this.  “Yes,” he said, “I’ve seen it a few times.  It may even be that many women have orgasms during birth, but interpret them as pain because the sensations are more intense than anything previously experienced and because women are conditioned to expect pain. – Quoted by Marilyn Moran in Happy Birth Days, told by Donn Reed, 34-35

Since sex and orgasm is a very taboo subject and again considered shameful, most women don’t realize that sex and birth involve the same organs.  They involve the same feelings, the same muscles, the same parts of the body.  Letting go of the shame that you aren’t beautiful, that sex is dirty or embarrassing is just another step to have a painless, beautiful, (possibly orgasmic) birth experience.

The last negative belief is guilt.

Natural guilt is meant to help us.  If we do something that is truly wrong (such as killing someone), natural guilt helps us not to repeat it.  Most people in this culture, however, have developed unnatural guilt.  We feel guilty about everything from sexual pleasure to financial success.  We don’t believe we deserve it.  This unnatural guilt is also a result of our emerging self-consciousness. – Shanley, 70

I can relate to this so well.  When I found out I was pregnant a month ago, I felt nothing but guilt.  Guilt that it was me, that I didn’t deserve this more than others who were trying, that it wasn’t my turn.  This was unnatural guilt.  Just because something wonderful happens in your life doesn’t mean that you should feel guilty because it isn’t happening to other people.

If women believe they are bad for wanting to raise a child in an overcrowded world, they will punish themselves with pain during childbirth.  If she feels guilty for having an easy pregnancy, or guilt that she can have this and others can’t, she will punish herself.

We must eliminate all guilt, therefore, if birth is to be a joy and not a punishment. – Shanley, 71

To truly have a beautiful, natural, painless birth you need to let go of negative things.  Yes, there are more things that can be gotten rid of when cleaning your mental house, but these three are basically the bottom of our lives.  We are scared, shamed, and guilted into believing we aren’t worth what others are.  That we aren’t beautiful like others.  That birth is meant to be painful as a sign that we need to be punished for what we have done.

Eliminating these three beliefs is what women need to be able to let go during labor and let her body do what it needs to do.  We need to realize that birth, just like sex, isn’t shameful.  I don’t know of a creator that believes that sex is shameful.  Without sex we can’t have children.  Someone that creates perfect bodies like us wouldn’t add fear, shame, and guilt to a process needed to have families.

Can women let go of their fears?  Can they let go of the shame of their body?  Can we let go of our guilt because we may have something someone else doesn’t have?

Can we ever truly just “be”?

Unassisted Birth – Part 3

You can read Part One and Part Two first if you want 🙂

This post and the next post will be about the semi-crazy and tomorrow will be a continuance of this post, summing up belief, and the final post will be the one after that.

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As most women who have given birth at home can attest, simply removing oneself from the medical environment does not ensure that a woman will have a painless easy birth.  This is because unnecessary medical intervention is only one of the reasons why most Western women have painful, difficult labors. -Shanley, 55

Even if you have the greatest midwife in attendance who never touches you, you still have a medical professional in attendance.  Even if you love them and feel comfortable around them, they are still strangers and can subconsciously or consciously change the course of your labor.

The birth we attended in August, the mother was having steady contractions, but because the midwife and I were there, it put her on a timer.  Having us there made her worried we were called to early, or it wasn’t really labor, or she needed to do something specific so we didn’t waste our time.  Even if they don’t feel this, their body does.

When animals birth, even domestic animals, when others are around their bodies stop their labor.  Even if they are pushing their babies out.  They do not like to be watched.  They want seclusion.

Your body may not know it, but that is what it wants too.  To be able to do its own thing without feeling watched.  If you have a midwife at your homebirth, and she is as excellent as mine, you still might feel watched.  Kind of like a lab rat.

Even in these amazing labors, what truly matters are your beliefs about birth.  We are taught basically from birth (well the majority of us, some have awesome “hippy” parents haha) that childbirth is painful.  That you need to be in the hospital because so many things can go wrong and because the pain medication is one of the greatest gifts of the hospital.  All it comes down to basically is pain and hardship.  This all sticks with you, whether you have different views or not.  It stays in your subconscious.

You take your beliefs about reality as truth and often do not question them.  They seem self-explanatory.  They appear in your mind as statements of fact, far too obvious for examination.  Therefore they are accepted without question too often.  They are not recognized as beliefs about reality but are instead considered as characteristics of reality itself.  Frequently such ideas appear indisputable, so a part of you that it does not occur to you to speculate about their validity.  They become invisible assumptions but they nevertheless color and form your personal experience. – Jane Roberts, The Nature of Personal Reality, 20

Growing up, I had this idea about birth that ended up being so far from fact.  Over the last eighteen months, my views have changed with all the research I had done, and I have learned that what I believed was so ingrained it took a lot of work to fix it.  And some of it still surfaces.  I believe so many things, and yet sometimes, the old fears and the fears of others sometimes break down the wall.  The beliefs from your life are hard to change.  Even when you find out information to the contrary.

“Childbirth is painful” is a good example of a belief that most people unquestioningly accept as a fact.  It is so thoroughly ingrained in the minds of most Westerners that, in almost all cases, it is indeed painful.  Women expect it to be painful, prepare themselves for the pain, and consequently experience it as painful. – Shanley, 58

Again, we are told basically from birth that our births were painful.  We hear stories as women and when we are pregnant that other women’s labors were so painful they wanted to be knocked out.  You rarely hear of women that didn’t have pain in labor, and even more rarely do you hear of women that had orgasms during labor.

Suggestion of pain is conveyed by the atmosphere of the labor room; it emanates from doctors, nurses, and relatives.  They believe in pain; subconsciously or consciously they suggest, expect and even presume pain.  Upon the sensitive mind of a woman in labor such authoritative (suggestions are) a powerful adjuvant to painful sensations. -Grantley Dick-Read, Childbirth Without Fear, 56

I also think perpetuating this in childbirth classes, in childbirth books, and through other women makes us expect pain.  It makes us prepare for the pain of labor.  Rarely do women believe that labor can be painless.  Rarely do women imagine their labor as painless.  And the majority of leaders in the birth world always discuss the pain in labor, and never have I heard one say, besides those in the Unassisted community, that labor is supposed to be painless.  Never.

The idea of pain is perpetuated even by the most natural birthers.  Sure, they say that some women can experience a painless labor, but it has nothing to do with beliefs, they just have a higher pain tolerance than the women that do feel pain.

I had not noticed her having any contractions – no change of expression, movement or sound.  I listened to the baby’s heartbeat while the doctor sat on the bed and did the vaginal exam.  “Well, now, you’re eight, Ariel.  How soon are you going to have this baby?  Five minutes?  Ten?  Fifteen?”  We all laughed, and Ariel continued to smile, reclining in bed with her legs spread.  I kept my hand on her belly and, sure enough, it tightened.  I timed the tightenings while we talked – they were every two minutes, lasting a minute.  This woman was having contractions.  “Can you feel that?”  I asked her as her belly rose up, contracting firmly.  “Not a thing,” she said.

Three contractions later her waters broke, clear fluid pouring out of her vagina and puddling on the bed.  “Here comes the baby!” she said.  Without so much as a moan or a groan, she spread her legs further apart, and I saw the bulge at her perineum.  She smiled and reached down to touch the head as it began to show.  The doctor supported her perineum, Ariel gave a big sigh, and the baby slipped out.  She reached down for the baby – a boy – as the doctor lifted him into her arms. – Jane Dwinell, Birth Stories: Mystery, Power, and Creation, 88

Not only is a painless labor possible, I believe it is achievable by every woman if they let go of all their previous beliefs and fears attached to birth.  And the very first way to start that is to let go of the idea that providers are necessary for low risk birth.  If you feel a provider is necessary, even if you believe they don’t need to ever do anything but have a presence, you are scared of what may happen.

A positive image of birth is the cornerstone of a safe, happy birth experience.  If you believe your body is meant to give birth efficiently, naturally, and without complications and that birth is a joyful event, you are more than halfway to a safe, natural birth.  Positive beliefs and attitudes contribute to a happy birth experience, enabling the mother to labor more efficiently and to open for her baby with less effort. -Carl Jones, Mind of Labor, 32

Even if you can only get as far as this, just having a positive image for birth, you are a lot farther than most women.  And by positive, I don’t mean positive by just having a healthy baby.  As the quote said, if you believe your body is meant to give birth, most times it will.  Blocking out the fear in the beginning is one of the very first steps to having a great natural delivery.

One physician told me that 95 percent of all labors are normal and require no intervention.  However, he said, because we can’t predict which women will fall into the 5 percent of births that aren’t normal, all babies should be born in hospitals.  By that rationale, suppose 5 percent of all men were rapists.  Does that mean we should lock up all men because we don’t know which ones might be dangerous? – Shanley 66

Yes, things happen, but giving birth with an attendant just in case in happens to you just adds fear and uncertainty of your labor and delivery.  Your mind picks up on this.  It adds to your pain because you tighten, even if just for a moment, and it can throw off the groove of your entire labor.

I have spoken to women who have given birth at home, visualized a painless birth, and still had painful labors.  “This proves,” said one of them, “that childbirth is inherently painful!”  In reality this proves that, although the woman imagined a painless birth, she still clung to opposing beliefs. – Shanley, 67

When we believe that labor is painful, we are essentially making it so.

An orgasm and a contraction are the same thing.  They both use the uterus and muscles and nerves in the same area, and yet one is painful and one is extremely pleasurable.  What makes them different?

Is it truly our inherent belief about birth that makes it painful, or is it just a painful natural process?

Unassisted Birth: Part 2

You can read Part One of the series first if you like 🙂  I might have to do four or five sets of this, just depends on how long each post is, so just work with me.  I promise you will see the crazy end post when I write it, so just wait for that.

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Labor is a time where you are at your most powerful and most vulnerable.  Even when women are numbed during labor and delivery, which makes them more vulnerable since they aren’t an active part of their birth, they and/or their body is working hard to bring a child into the world.

I don’t know a woman that isn’t worried about her child during pregnancy, labor, delivery, and through their life.  Since you are most vulnerable during labor and delivery, even one comment can ruin the tone and comfort of your labor.  Someone can come in, make an offhand comment about how the heart rate dropped or raised, or check you and say you are the “same” you were two hours ago, and the stress starts.  You are put on a timer, and your labor shifts gears.

It either slows down or it speeds up.  I know a lot of women that pushed their children out when there had been no progress because the doctor suggested a cesarean.  On the same token, I know a lot of women that passively sat by the side and left the decision up the doctor and ended up being cut.

This all depends on your fight or flight reflex.  When you are in danger, your body and your conscious mind decide if it is best to stand and fight or if it is best to run away and hide.

In labor, if you are being told a cesarean is necessary and you know it isn’t, you can fight, or you can agree to the surgery.  Most times women agree because they are so tired of the fight they have had all through labor.  Most women wanting a natural delivery in a medical facility have to fight their entire pregnancy in addition to the labor and delivery, and by the end they are tired.  You only have so much fight in you.

This is different for every woman, but with a cesarean rate at 1 in 3 women, less women fight, and more women accept.

Medical intervention has taken the place of instinct.  Medical intervention has taken the place of nature.  Medical intervention has taken the place of our own knowledge over our own bodies.

Often a woman will say, “Thank God I was in the hospital when I gave birth.  There were complications, but the doctor saved my baby’s life.”  What she may not understand is that the interference by the doctor and the nursing staff, from the moment she entered the hospital, may have actually caused the “complications” in the first place.

Still, safety is the primary reason most women give for turning themselves over to physicians when they’re in labor.  Images of women bleeding to death or coming down with strange diseases still flash through the minds of many women. – Shanley, 11

Most people have heard this from the documentary The Business of Being Born, but it is worth saying over and over again.  The majority of “emergencies” at the hospital are intervention caused.  Pitocin, epidurals, articificial rupture of membranes, vaginal checks – These can all cause the distress a baby has or an infection or account for a woman having “failure to progress” or “a big baby”.  Rarely do babies go into true distress.  Yes it happens, but less than 3% of births will have this, if they are “allowed” to labor on their own without any problems.

There was a study done in 1977 by Lewis Mehl, MD on hospital versus home delivery.  He found that homebirth is actually safer for both mother and baby than delivering in the hospital.  And this is when the cesarean rate was less than 5%!

His points in this study concluded:

  • The hospital has five times higher incidence of maternal blood pressure.
  • The hospital has three and a half times more meconium staining.
  • The hospital has eight times more shoulder dystocia.
  • The hospital has three times the rate of postpartum hemorrhage.
  • Three times as many hospital babies require resuscitation.
  • Four times as many hospital babies become infected.
  • Thirty times as many hospital babies suffered birth injuries such as: severe cephalhemotoma, fractured skull, fractured clavicle, facial nerve paralysis brachial nerve injury, eye injury, etc.
  • Less than 5% of homebirth mothers receive analgesia or anesthesia compared to the 75% in hospitals.
  • The hospital has a three times higher risk of cesarean
  • You are nine times more likely for episiotomy and severe tears.
  • Three times more likely for infant death in the hospital.

Now, sure this was a different time for childbirth.  We didn’t have the medical technology that we have now.  And yet, the maternal mortality and infant mortality rates were lower than then they are now.

Either we forgot how to keep mothers and children alive, or we are doing more harm than good by intervening during pregnancy, labor, and delivery.

In so many different ways we are messing up a perfectly natural process.  Instead of letting the baby choose when to be born because it is truly ready to live outside the womb, we schedule inductions and cesareans.  We control what is happening with our own bodies by trying to get labor going.  We are so into control and would love to schedule a birthday when we want it, we forget why the process was created the way it was in the first place.  We forget that the baby is born when ready for a reason.  We forget that not everything can be timed and scheduled.

We place our children on a schedule even before they are born.

Only about 5% of due dates are correct.  And an estimated due date isn’t even based on anything scientific or true.  Sure, it is great to have an idea of when the baby will be born so you can plan accordingly, but having a 40 week gestation has been proven to be wrong time and again.  Most first time mothers have their children naturally at about 41 weeks 3-5 days.  Subsequent pregnancies normally go a little shorter than that.

Sure, as with all things, women go longer and shorter.  Welcome to averages and why they have no right to be around pregnancy and labor.

So many things stem from the idea that pregnancy has a 40 gestation.  The idea of “overdue”, term being at 37 weeks, thinking that baby is ready on your due date.  All of these are more come from the idea that pregnancy is only 40 weeks from your last menstrual period.

Even though that most women ovulate on a different day than day 14, it doesn’t matter.  Most women don’t have 28 day cycles, but that doesn’t matter.

It should be emphasized that in all cases of induced labor – and this is true with other interferences as well – it is not the mother, nor the doctor, but the baby whose delicate system must correct the effects of such interference as soon as extrauterine life begins.  Since many of the infant’s vital organs are only beginning to function at the time of birth….such artificial effects as change in acid balance, respiratory sluggishness, or disalignment of parietal bones (all of what can occur when labor is artificially induced), are extraordinary burdens to place on such a physiologically innocent beginner of independent life. – Suzanne Arms, Immaculate Deceotion, 58.

Most times when an induction is over, the woman has to cope with either a medicated vaginal delivery with severe tears or an episiotomy, or a cesarean.  Rarely do people think about the baby and how they are impacted by the delivery.  They are the ones that truly have to cope with being born too early.  They are the ones that sometimes struggle to breathe and eat, that have immature organs so as to put their body at risk, they are the ones that have to work after birth to make their body work outside the environment they weren’t ready to leave.

When you have a timeline, and you think it is off, instead of going by what knowledge you have, they order ultrasounds to pinpoint when your due date is.  Not thinking that these can be off by nearly a month once you hit the second trimester.  Again, medical intervention is seen as the greater tool than knowing your own body.

There are so many things that can take away from the natural progression of your labor when you give birth in the hospital, and yes, even at home with midwives attending.  An IV for fluids, no eating or drinking during labor, electronic fetal monitoring, vaginal exams, episiotomy, supine position for pushing, forced pushing, drugs, amniotomy, augmentation, induction, instrumental delivery, cesarean, suctioning the baby’s mouth and nose, early clamping of the cord, making the placenta detach within minutes of the delivery, controlled cord traction to expel the placenta, vitamin K, eye drops, separating the mother and child for observation, transfer from home for no reason besides protocol from certification – all of these take away from a natural process purely for control.  Rarely are any of these needed if you just let the body do what it does naturally.

Decide how you want your labor and delivery.  Research for yourself what is safe and what is risky.  The body does know what to do.

When you decide to trust your body, you might be surprised.

What will it take to get women to learn how to trust themselves?  A traumatic birth, hurt pride, lies told to them basically because they don’t like waiting?

What does it take to shift power from the doctors and midwives back to the woman were it belongs?

Unassisted Birth – Part One

My wonderful friend @toniraquel sent me the book Unassisted Childbirth by Laura Kaplan Shanley because I am planning a freebirth, or unassisted birth after cesarean, with my next child.  She considered it interesting, but knew most information in it, and having read it, I can definitely see how 98% is just review.  And the remaining 2% can be perceived as crazy ramblings if you aren’t a radical birth nut like myself.

Freebirth is considered a crazy thought by even most people that work in the birth community.  It is seen as dangerous, not thought out, and people just spout more and more fear at you.  People have told me that I am going to kill my child, that they only support freebirth if the people prepare and most don’t, that so much can go wrong, and it always just comes back to their own fears and how they want to send them onto other people.  You can’t make other people’s choices for them, and if women are going to freebirth, they have done their research and preparation, they have let go of their fears so they can follow their instincts and have the best birth for them.

This book, since most was review to me, wouldn’t really be much more than anti-hospital and even anti-midwife dribble to most women.  And yet, that isn’t what this book is about.  This book is about educating women and men on another way to birth, with studies and authors and research proving why it is safe and a good option for women.  It isn’t crazy.  It isn’t brave.  It is just another option for women to choose.

This three part post will be my semi-review on the book, plus my views on freebirth.  Part one and two is all the review I read in the book, and then the third part will be the crazy drivel most women can see me spouting ;).

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Medical intervention is based on the belief that childbirth is inherently dangerous.  When we choose to believe otherwise, any sort of intervention or assistance becomes unnecessary. – Shanley, xvi

I am always amazed at how far my beliefs about birth have come.  I used to love different childbirth classes, the way homebirth midwives handled birth, that a vaginal birth was what to strive for no matter how it was attained.  I have definitely changed from this.

I think the biggest change for me has been the idea of intervention in birth.  Every time a medical professional does something in labor, they are intervening in a natural process.  Breaking your water, checking your cervix, giving you an IV for fluids, strapping you to a bed for monitoring, forced pushing, suctioning the baby at birth, rubbing the baby at birth.  It may seem okay since you might be having a natural, unmedicated birth, but every little thing done TO you, even if you want it, is considered an intervention.  It isn’t normal for the body to be disturbed during labor and delivery.  Every other bodily function happens in private, childbirth shouldn’t be any different.

Childbirth – an even that should idealy reinforce a woman’s sense of power and autonomy – has now become a painful, dangerous ordeal that often ends up reinforcing the belief she is indeed a helpless, dependent child herself. – Shanley, xvi

Childbirth was never something to be feared until it was taken over by men.  Until it became dirty, and we were strapped to our backs.  Childbirth was a natural thing for women, and depending on the culture she either birthed alone, or in the company of other women supporting her.  Most of their labors were short, rarely had any problems, and took place in the comfort of home, or outdoors, again depending on their culture.

Childbirth was normal.  Childbirth was natural.

On a more aesthetically pleasing level, giving birth can be compared to painting a picture or having an orgasm.  It is more a matter of allowing it to happen, rather than making it happen. – Shanley, 23

When you try to control a process, especially a natural biological process, it doesn’t happen like it is supposed to.  It can stall, stop, receed, and then providers worry and control the process even more with drugs and surgeries.

Chidlbirth has become something so terrifying that women are scared of the pain.  They are told they are overdue if they go past their due date.  They are allowed to schedule inductions and cesareans for no reason other than they are tired or they don’t want to ruin their vagina.  They can numb the pain of labor and delivery because they are told it won’t affect their baby.  They are told that their body might not be able to birth a baby through machines and not human interaction.

Women have become purely patients and no longer women.  They are told what to think about labor and delivery, and if they go against that, they are punished.  Many are court ordered into inductions and cesareans.  They are dropped from the practice days before their due date.  They have procedures like stripping of membranes without knowing it.  They have their water broken to be put on a clock for delivery.  They push flat on their backs.  They are medicated.

The fact that the mother may have been drugged at birth and didn’t herself necessarily (or consciously) view the experience as traumatic doesn’t mean the child was unaffected.  To the contrary, say some psychologists, the drugs actually add to the trauma of birth. – Shanley, 38

When you drug yourself, you are truly hurting yourself and your child.  Whether you know it or not.  Yes, there are times when medication and drugs are necessary during labor and delivery, but they are few and far between.  They are being used to the point of addiction in our country.  When you are first pregnant, it seems that most people tell you to get the drugs and not be a hero.  They are the saviors from the pain of childbirth.

These drugs have made it even easier to control women.  Instead of having a woman wandering the halls of the hospital, she is in bed with a belt across her waist.  She is disconnected with the process and therefore with her child.  She is told all that matters is a healthy baby.  And until something happens that opens her eyes, she believes this.

Birth trauma, because of a highly controlled system, happens more often than we would like.  Even the necessary things in this system can leave trauma behind.  Major surgery to have your child can leave lasting scars.  Especially if your child has to be in a NICU because of problems associated with the birth or before.  PTSD is common in NICU parents, and PPD can occur more frequently from women with controlled births and disconnection with her child because of this.

Unfortunately, an unpleasant experience doesn’t end simply because it is no longer physically occurring.  The fear, shame, and guilt associated with a traumatic birth creeps into every aspect of a woman’s life. – Shanley, 42

Almost three years out from the birth of my daughter, I am still feeling like my body failed and I failed myself and my child for not researching.  It creeps into every aspect of my life.

I was submissive, and I have myself for it.

Sometimes I hated the birthing women for being powerless.  Sometimes I wanted to shake them, yell at them, insist that they stand up for themselves.  But then I’d feel the pull of an undertow; I’d feel them wanting us to abuse them: I’d feel them pleading for the repetition of the pattern in their lives.  My fury would die.  I’d realize that I’d been angry with them because they didn’t want my respect. – Penny Armstrong, A Wise Birth, 117

I see these women, lying down to birth their children.  Watching television while everyone watches the monitors to show her body is working.  To show that her baby is okay.  They don’t want to be involved.  They want to be passive participants in their births.  They want to sit there and be apart from the pain and their child.  The two are synonymous.  The child’s birth is causing the pain, and therefore it needs to be numbed and ignored.

Often I don’t like the women I’ve delivered.  I don’t like them for their submissiveness…. For me, the submissiveness of one woman becomes my own, as though we were all one organism.  Their imprisonment adds to my own sense of powerlessness in this hospital. – Michelle Harrison, A Woman in Residence, 129

We as women are all considered one person now.  We are put into averages and charts instead of treated on a case by case basis as we should be.  We are all treated as the same.  That we will all dilate at the same rate, that will we will all push our children out at the same rate, that we will all be okay with being told what to do.  That we as women are all the same, as are our children.  There are no individuals, just pregnant women giving birth to more children.

If we are to succeed in childbirth, we must stop viewing physicians, or even midwives, as our saviors.  They are human beings – no more, no less.  We are our own saviors.  Isn’t it time to exercise our courage and take our lives into our own hands? – Shanley, 52

Will we as women take back our right to birth our own children?  Will we ever truly believe that our bodies were made for this and it isn’t something to be numbed?  Will we, as women, ever believe that birth isn’t dangerous and we can do it without saviors for our children and ourselves?

Will we ever have true faith in ourselves?