Let’s talk about returning power to birthing mothers in a culture and a system that routinely views them as an object of birth.
There is a birthing video I show in the second unit of my HypnoBirthing classes when we discuss choosing a birthing environment and birth provider. Let me set the scene for you. This birth takes place in a hospital setting and the birth is progressing quickly, with the mother feeling the baby descend for birth before her doctor has even made it to the hospital. Now this in and of itself is not a problem. Usually births that precede in this fashion are straight-forward, and the woman’s body and her baby have all the knowledge they need to complete the process.
The mother remains calm, relaxed, and very much in the “birthing zone,” while all around her the hustle and bustle of the nurses is noted. Urgency can be heard in their voices as they yell out to the hallway to call nursery, rapidly open sterile packages, and prepare for a “nurse delivery.” As they talk among themselves, they begin to speak about her as though she were an object in the room. I cringe every time I watch the video and hear one of them say, “will you prep her?” as though she were a damn salad or something.
Instead of using language that recognizes the strong, capable person who is going to actively birth her baby, they talk about her in a way that suggests she is a passive participant from whom they will deliver the baby. And this is not an isolated incident. This is a major problem in our birthing culture and is slowly beginning to become recognized. I’m sure the nurses in this video had no intention of objectifying this woman. What they are is a reflection of a system, a system that needs to be called into question.
Take a moment to look at this picture of me and my youngest baby. We are wearing some pretty powerful shirts from Evidence Based Birth. They read—Babies are NOT Pizzas! They are BORN, not delivered. This is a TRUTH that needs to be shouted from the rooftops and cross the lips every expecting mother.
We need birthing women to expect to reach down inside themselves to discover their own inner intuition-- birthing knowledge that is intrinsically a part of their bodies and minds. This is in contrast to these mothers being lead to expect that they will be “delivered” through the process of labor and birth by their birth team.
Words and the way in which we express those words leave indelible messages on both our conscious and subconscious minds. Cathy Daub, author of Birthing in the Spirit, underscores this as she writes:
“When women forget the truth that their bodies already know how to give birth, they become dependent on others to do it for them. Medical procedures may become necessary to help them through labor, and these all have risk-benefit ratios. Forgetting this truth leads to others delivering the woman’s baby or babies, versus her feeling empowered and being in control of the experience herself. As a result, over the last few decades we have gradually strayed away from the normal and natural process of birth that nature has refined over thousands of years.”
Words have power. The words we are surrounded by shape our thoughts and beliefs. Our thoughts and beliefs create our reality and actually change the physiology of our bodies. Lets take back that power and show women how to reclaim the leading role in their birth stories instead of being relegated to that of supporting actress. Let us remember the inner locus of control that is already exists inside us all.
P.S. I’ve just recently found out that Rebecca Dekker, the founder of Evidence Based Birth, is coming out with a new book titled, Babies Are Not Pizzas. I am excited to get my hands on this book when it comes out with hopes that it continues to shape this discussion in a way that empowers birthing mothers everywhere.