We Have To Unlearn What We Know, To Learn What We Need

I remember being about 8 years old and practising a school nativity play in the local church. I was a shepherd wearing a grey robe and, as you can imagine as an 8 year old girl, I was not exactly thrilled for the role. I do remember, clear as day, the children who were gathered round the manger joking about Mary giving birth. Pretending to scream and shout and be in awful pain. 8 years old and thinking that birth’s like that!


When you think back to all the things you’ve been exposed to about birth during your lifetime, are they predominantly negative, or positive? If the latter then you are certainly in a minority. For all of our lives, we see films and entertainment shows depicting birth as an ordeal. We overhear distressing birth stories and we see stock images in magazines of women in hospital beds in stirrups. It’s even become common place in our culture to joke about how awful birth is, and something that has to be endured (by the way, it is NOT like sh*tting a watermelon)!


The increasing medicalisation of birth hasn’t helped either. From around the 40s, hospital birth has become increasingly the norm. Intervention rates have increased, and are skyrocketing right now (even through better outcomes are not increasing at anywhere near the same rate). We are made to believe, from mainstream media, through recent generational experiences, and more increasingly (and worryingly) the medical profession itself, that our bodies aren’t very good at giving birth.


The thing is, this is all self-perpetuating. The more we fear birth, the more adrenaline pumps through our bodies during labour. This completely disturbs or stops the birth hormones that are required to birth our babies and makes pain, distress and intervention far more likely.


Unless we understand birth and prepare accordingly, giving birth in a medicalised and unfamiliar environment also makes intervention more likely. The very place most people birth their babies actually makes birth harder! Bright lights and people talking, prodding and poking and hooking us up to machines keeps those shy birth hormones at bay: our senses tell our subconscious that we’re not private, or safe to birth undisturbed.


I am not against birthing in hospital whatsoever (I’ve done it myself), and I’m not against intervention either – of course there is a place for it. It is important to know that the medical profession is often nervous of physiological birth (yes, you read that right). That’s probably because of their day-to-day work seeing birth complications and genuinely high-risk pregnancies. They also face pressures on availability on beds, paperwork and protecting themselves from litigation. Hospital birth definitely needs more planning to have your beautiful, calm birth experience (and hypnobirthing’s great for that).


Most of us seem to start out at a place of doubting whether we can actually birth our babies without help.  Our default expectation should be that birth is a normal, physiological event that sometimes needs medical assistance, and not the other way round.


How you feel about birth matters. Our minds hugely affect what happens in our bodies during labour. We need to unlearn a lifetime of really unhelpful cr*p about birth. And once we’ve done that, then we can learn what we need to know, to have the birth we want!


I’m here to help you on this journey. Why not contact me to explore what support will be best for you and your birth partner?

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