Friday, February 05, 2016

"Oh Honey, I'm too Old to be Thinking About Childbirth"

Have you ever told someone what you do for a living?  You are a childbirth educator or doula.

If the person with whom you are speaking is of childbearing age, you might get the following responses:

"I'm taking childbirth classes!"


If the person with whom you are speaking is past the age of childbearing, you might get the following responses:

"hahahahahaha" (with a somewhat eerie sneer)

"Oh Honey, I'm too old to be thinking about THAT!"

Most of the time, when I get the latter two responses, I cringe a little.  This is an example of how our society is morphing into something different than it used to be.  There are fewer and fewer "wise women" of our tribe, sharing valuable information with those women of childbearing age.  Where, then do young women receive their birthing information?  Those who do receive information, often receive it from friends, families, and the internet.  And while each of those sources may be good, they may also not be up-to-date or evidence-based. Women may also relay on television shows or books, and while these also may be good, they may also be inaccurate.  After all, the idea behind television is to sell products.  The pregnancy/birth episodes must be high powered and full of tragedy so you'll watch the commercials, too.  Let's face it, 85% of birth experiences are not (from the observer's point of view) high powered or full of tragedy.

Michel Odent has stated that we as human beings are losing the capacity to give birth.  We are witness to evolution in action.  Epidemiologically speaking, since the capacity to love is shaped at birth, all of the interventions that prohibit this loving circuitry to begin functioning (labor interventions, removing babies from their mothers at the moment of birth, increase in cesarean sections, disruption of the newborn microbiome,  reduction in breastfeeding) changes the DNA expression of those babies.

But what about the research?  We read about this stuff all of the time, right?

It may take years for a hospital to assimilate changing policies to correspond with evidence-based information.  Further, it may take decades for medical/nursing schools to incorporate these findings in their curricula.  Few nursing schools now incorporate the concept of a (normal, natural) physiologic birth in their programs.  Yes, nurses are well equipped in the event of an emergency and yes, that is important.  Yet if a nurse has never seen a woman begin labor naturally or move through the stages of labor normally, does that nurse have the skill set for support during labor?  If a physician has never attended a birth where a mother chose the hands and knees position to push her baby into the world, will that physician be able to support that mother's choice?  Ina May Gaskin has voiced concern that we are losing the ability to help women with physiologic birth.

Birth is a sacred moment.  Suzanne Arms, a long time birth advocate has said, "We must transform how we bring human beings into the world and care for each childbearing woman and mother-baby pair from conception to the first birthday, when they are one biological system and the baby’s developing brain and nervous system are laying down patterns for a lifetime.”

None of us are too old too pass down the truth.  None of us are too old to help that next generation of parents to realize the power of nature.  Nature created birth the way it is for a reason.  As newborns lay down patterns for life during the "fourth trimester" or the "external womb", we must give them the perfect environment in which to do that.  It is our gift to future generations.

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