Monday, April 25, 2011

The Trap of Idealizing the Quiet Birther (part 1)

Rachel, a midwife in Australia who writes the blog, Midwife Thinking, recently shared her thoughts on the habit our society has of Judging Birth. I really liked the second section where she talked about judging birth choices. My last post, The Trap of Idealizing the Intervention-free Birth covers some of the same ideas. I also generally agree with the ideas of the part about judging women's behavior in birth, though at first I wasn't sure I did. As I was looking through the comments on the post, I came across this:
I find the general rule of thumb for making noise has to do with a woman’s sexual style. If she is a noisy lovemaking person, then chances are it will feel natural for her to express herself loudly while in labour. If she is a quiet lovaking [sic] person, then she will follow suit when she is in labour. We birth in accordance with the way that we live.
My reaction was, "There are really women who can be quiet during sex?" (I guess that shows what my "sexual style" is!) At first, I didn't think this rule of thumb applied to me, because, using Hypnobabies, I was rather quiet. But then I remembered that wasn't exactly true. I began to spontaneously vocalize as I felt the pressure of my baby beginning to come down. I wasn't moaning in pain, it actually felt better to make noise, and I remember saying so. I was also very vocal while trying to wait for the cervical lip to move.

At first, I was a bit put off by a mention in the post of feelings of failure caused by "childbirth preparation programs aimed at learning how to be quiet and in control during birth" and some more direct implications of hypnosis for childbirth by some people in the comments. I went back to the post later and saw some new comments and a discussion between Rachel and a mom who used Hypnobabies that clarified some things. Here is part of one of Rachel's comments.
You did something based on your prior birth experience that worked for you… an individual… which may, or may not work for another woman. There is nothing wrong with learning to relax during birth with the help of breathing or any other technique. These techniques are extremely helpful for many women. However, if they become prescriptive and women feel like that is the only way, or that they must not lose control then they can cause harm. As you found in your own experience the techniques can work up to a point for some women. You did not worry that your body took over at the end of labour. However I know some women how consider their body taking over at the end as a failure to remain in control. It makes me sad when women express disappointment because they ‘lost it’ just at the end.
I also had a "losing it" experience at the end of my birth with hypnosis. I still attribute some of that feeling to confusion about not knowing whether to listen to the instructions on pushing (and on "not pushing yet") or to try to do what I had learned about in Hypnobabies and my own research. However, I now realize that it is highly possible that the panic, that feeling like I was drowning, at the very end might just be the way birth happens for me. That sudden "swept under" feeling might be just what I needed to...push me into pushing, I guess. I don't think it is that way for everyone. But it being that way for me doesn't mean there was anything wrong with me or with my level of preparation. It doesn't mean that I failed to use hypnosis correctly during that part of my birth. I had kind of hoped that I would be able to "calmly breathe the baby out" thing with my next birth, but maybe I will and maybe I won't. If I don't, then maybe that is the way it needs to be for me.

My thoughts will continue in Part 2.

1 comment:

  1. I can't wait to read part two!

    I was nearly silent in my first labor...I meditated, had my eyes closed, etc. It was a surprise to me when I was much more vocal while in labor with my son. It wasn't a conscious decision, it just happened as my labor progressed.

    I guess that leaves you guessing about my sexual style ;)