"The aim of any futuristic birth strategy should be that
as many women as possible give birth vaginally, thanks to an undisturbed flow
of love hormones. The future of our civilizations is at stake." (Michel Odent, MD)
| Birth Obstacles
Birthing difficulties are so often rooted in emotional discord.
A big one is fear: fear of the unknown and fear from bad birth stories.
Another is discord arising from
disrupting the way nature wants us to birth. Hospital birth is far from
Nature's Way and makes woman afraid - and woman instinctively stops
labour when afraid. "Animal studies have shown that when animal mothers are
frightened labor stops. This may represent nature’s way to let the laboring
female flee a potential danger” (Klaus, Kennel and Klaus, 1993 cited in Bak, 2003).
Another is the discord
that unconsciously emerges from people at the birth bringing their own
interventionist birth history or intellectually-based ideas of how
birth should be, or their adrenalised state. The progress of labour is to a great extent
dependent on the adrenaline levels of those around the labouring woman.
The primary reason for all this is the removal of birth from the wisdom of women.
Power and control over birth has been usurped by science and medicine.
Birth has been medicalised.
Woman is well-designed for birth - if she can be instinctual, primal.
So, almost all the time, birth is NOT a medical event.
Worldwide, the biggest cause of maternal death is poor maternal health and diet, and especially poor hygiene.
So, we need to:
- Give control of birth back to women. See how here.
- Watch/Read lots of positive, natural births. This reduces the fear of the unknown. Start here and here.
- Get movies and TV to
include natural birth, preferably as the default type. Avoid scenes
with terrified woman begging for drugs. Rather, let us witness the
positive power of women!!
- Mothers need to choose
carefully who they want at their birth. This is NOT the time to be
polite. Surely you need people around who you feel comfortable with? A
doula may be a wise choice. Supporters of the labouring mother could
engage in repetitive tasks (e.g. knitting) to reduce anxiety.
Here are some longer quotes
about all this by Colleen Bak excerpted from her article 'The Role of
Fear in the U.S. Birthing Process' (Midwifery Today Issue 67):
- Birth is inherently a female activity. The choice, the
ability, the power to give birth is innately female. Historically women were
the sole possessors of birthing knowledge and technique, and in certain
cultures and time periods men feared them as a result of this (Arms 1996). In
some places and times it was thought that women’s control over life also
enabled them a certain control over death, and in others, female birth
attendants were murdered as witches due to their ability to magically aid in
the birthing process. As a result of their pivotal roles in birth and death,
female healers “began to be shunned, persecuted, and often even put to
death…women healers everywhere were driven underground by those who feared
their powers” (Mauger 2000: 126).
- Whereas once men were the primary candidates to experience
fear of women and birth, today women are the primary candidates to experience
fear of and during birth. This shift was caused by numerous changes in the
environment of birth as well as in the attitudes and techniques of those
attending it, which was largely brought on through the medicalization of
childbirth. The fear can partially be attributed to external stressors, such as
the unnatural setting in which birth normally takes place in current society,
the inadequate level of support women are often provided with and the current
lack of understanding and familiarity women have of the process.
- The emotional state of fear, on the part of the birthing
woman, can have a negative impact on the progress of her labor and her overall
experience of birth. The negative response to fear is often manifested through
the slowing down or arrest of labor. This physiological phenomenon is
observable in animals whose bodies have been shown to instinctively cease labor
when a threat is perceived. “Animal studies have shown that when animal mothers
are frightened labor stops. This may represent nature’s way to let the laboring
female flee a potential danger” (Klaus, Kennel and Klaus 1993: 144). The same
occurrence has also often been noted in women upon arrival to the hospital or
the appearance of the obstetrician. The hospital, as well as the obstetrician,
can elicit nervous reactions that can trigger an instinctive response toward
potential danger (Odent 2002). To some women, they may personify their personal
lack of power or decision-making and thus evoke fear and subsequently anxiety
and stress via feelings of powerlessness.
- Tangential to the environment or atmosphere that a woman
labors in is the human support system that occupies it with her. This support
group can comprise the birthing woman’s partner, friends and family. It may
also include professional labor support from nurses, midwives, obstetricians
and doulas. The efficiency of a birthing woman’s support system is one of the
factors directly related to the amount of fear and anxiety from influences
outside of labor that she experiences. It has been documented that “the most
important factor in alleviating the anxiety that most women feel upon arrival
at the hospital is the attitude of the people helping her” (Klaus, Kennel and
Klaus 1993: 144). The effectiveness of support people in alleviating outside
stress, fear and anxiety is reliant on their relationship to the birthing
woman, as well as the type and/or quality of support they provide. The initial
qualifier of a support person is that she or he maintains a presence with the
birthing woman. This minimal requirement is frequently impossible for busy
nurses, midwives and obstetricians practicing in hospitals. However, it becomes
more of an option for providers practicing in homes or independent birth
centers, where the client-to-provider ratios are significantly reduced.
- The use of touch in birth is altered when birth is
located within the social space of the hospital. In modern hospitals the
“reliance on technology for enhancing and monitoring labour, may restrict and
alter the way in which we use touch to comfort, support and encourage women
through labour” (Page 2000: 116). The reliance on technology may also
negatively affect the amount of overall interaction busy hospital staff members
have with women. Often the vital signs of a birthing woman and her fetus can be
monitored from the nursing station, which is advantageous and attractive to
staff members as it allows them to watch more clients at a time (Arms 1996). In
addition, U.S. research comparing the level and kind of support provided by first-time
fathers and that of doulas indicates that “women touch the mother 95 percent of
the time, but men only 20 percent of the time that they are present, and also
that men choose to be there for shorter periods” (Kitzinger 2000: 123). Each of
these findings increases the importance of adequate support provided for the
birthing woman by outside trained women. However most women in the U.S. today
do not employ doulas, nor do they compensate for this with other sources of
adequate labor support. This lack of sufficient support during the birthing
process often leads to increased fear and anxiety levels.
- Most women in current U.S. society are not exposed to
the birthing process, as was general practice in most traditional cultures
(Arms 1996; Gaskin 2003). Rather, in the U.S., birth happens behind closed
doors and the majority of women do not witness births before they themselves
give birth. Kitzinger (2000) observes that if a woman “is having her first baby
she has only the vaguest idea of how birth really feels and how other women
cope. Birth is set apart from the rest of women’s lives and accepted as a
matter of specialist knowledge” (8). Whereas once women possessed this
“specialist knowledge,” the medicalization of childbirth polarized the birthing
process, transforming it into a specific medical event and limiting legitimate
birthing knowledge to medical professionals. Birth became something that was
performed on women, rather than something that women performed, and along with
this transformation the knowledge and experience of birthing was relegated to
the confines of physicians and hospitals. Birth has been removed from its place
in the realm of natural female experiences, and this removal has effectively
denied generations of women the right to observe, participate in and fully
understand the birthing process before they themselves experience it. It is a
naturally occurring factor of the human psyche to fear the unknown, and through
the scientific veiling of the birthing process, birth has been transformed into
the unknown for the majority of U.S. primiparas.
- You CAN orgasm in childbirth! 'Birthgasm' mum
describes her pleasurable labour and how she did it (Daily Mirror) [Note the reference to how the vocal chords and vagina look and work the same. By freeing the woman's voice in her birth (primal, instinctive sounds or whatever she wants) and in her life will help overcome birth obstacles! Women do NOT have freedom - and this is an obstacle to natural birth.]
Birth Obstacles - Sexual Abuse
Suffering & Birth
Pain & Birth
Violence & Birth
Culture of Touch
Preparing for Conception