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!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The First Step in the Journey

Thursday the 12th and Friday the 13th, I had the honor and privelage to lead 8 wonderful, intelligent, energetic women through a DONA approved doula training.

Each woman brought to the training a unique grouping of life experiences and talents. It was amazing to watch them during those two days go from being quiet and cocoon-like to beautiful, blossoming doulas by the end of the workshop. Their own birth experiences will help them provide support to the women with whom they come in contact, from the homebirth, to the cesarean, to the multi-intervention, to the adoptive mother - they already had wonderful talents!

A doula training to me is part teaching but also part empowering them to recognize their instincts, their talents, and their own abilities. They will be able to serve women in their own unique way - different from any other doula. They will be able to perform deeds at labors and births that only they can do - in their own special way.

Did they need massage lotion, birth balls, massage tools, aromatherapy or music? No, they already had their two most powerful tools ~ their hearts and their hands.

It is said that we will not be remembered by our words, but by our kind deeds. Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. And for me and these 8 women, the moment when a new life comes into this world definitely takes our breath away.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Anterior and Posterior and Transverse - Oh My!

More and more women are talking to me about the positions of their babies...being other than anterior and head down. Many are saying their babies are transverse or posterior.
Because being posterior (see image at left) puts the baby's bones near the mother's sacrum, sometimes causing an increase in pain for the mother and difficulty in movement for the baby in completing the cardinal movements of the birthing process.
The cardinal movements are the 7-8 instinctual movements babies complete to move through the pelvic bones and the birth canal to the opening of the vagina.
While studies say there is no increase in transverse or posterior positioning than in the 1970's, perhaps women are just more in tune with their bodies, asking their caregivers for more information and just wiser about the baby's position than in the 70's.
Babies can be born breech, posterior, and anterior. The effort is just a little bit different on everyone's part, including the caregiver. Transverse babies can also be turned with heat/cold, music, pelvic rocking/tilting, moxibustion or external version. I hope more caregivers are exposed to some of the "tried and true" methods of turning babies and encourage their clients to use some of the techniques.