Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"....But I am scared of childbirth..."

For those of us immersed in the beauty, amazing physicalness and spirituality of childbirth, it is often difficult to imagine someone fearful of one of life's most natural events.

A growing number of 20-somethings and even a few 30-somethings come to childbirth education class with a severe fear of the birthing process. Fear is not an unusual emotion for an unknown event - quite the contrary - it is very normal. The individuals whom I am speaking about are not so fearful about the discussions of birth but of the videos shown in childbirth class.

In the past, birth films included interviews with parents, grandparents, friends and health care providers. Also included was staged footage of labor and perhaps a birth. Today, with the advent of computers, cgi plays in increasing role in the graphics show in such films. These graphics, more like cartoons, assist parents (as well as professionals) in learning about how the birth process works, why certain things happen during birth, and how parents and providers can facilitate the labor and birth. Ultimately, these films can help labor be easier, faster and with fewer complications merely through education and clearing up "myth-conceptions."

But for some reason, expectant parents fear this information. Some even say they would rather be ignorant throught the whole event. What brings them to that conclusion?

Television is media and it is vital to understand that if television is not sensational, it will not attract advertising or viewers. Following this logic, of course television shows about childbirth are going to stretch the elements of truth, show the worse case scenarios, and be sensational. If all they showed for 13 or 26 episodes was normal birth, the general viewing public would become bored quickly.

Normal birth, which accounts for the vast majority of births in this world, are uneventful, routine, and, well, normal. A very small percentage of births include maternal complications, fetal complications or any combination of both. However, from the sensational side of birth, it must be an ever evolving crisis, or, as mentioned above, the show would not have advertising or viewers.

Having said all of this, is it any surprise that the generations who are watching these shows are becoming accustomed to birth being a crisis, rather than the normal event that it truly is? As professionals, we need to identify this problem and take steps to educate, clarify and renew the view of childbirth. By doing this, we can empower these parents and society as a whole!

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