Birth happens in the old part of our brain. This is the instinctual and primordial part. We also have a new part of our brain though. If we didn’t have that new part, which makes us ‘thinking beings’ full of emotions, very analytical and conceptual etc, we would just birth.
But we do!
Birth has always been part of families and life in the tribe. As little girls we would have seen and heard other women give birth and we would have seen them cared for afterwards as well. These days we also have birth around us, although no where near as much and these days it is mostly through media. So what do girls, women and I suppose boys and men too, get taught about birth in our culture before they are even ready to have their own? What do we learn from TV, tabloids, story after story of horrific experiences from friends and relatives? Mostly birth is portrayed as an emergency with green cloths and mum or baby nearly dying. Or it is the “one contraction birth” in the courtroom in front of the judge and jury.
As a culture we are also very influenced by celebrities, how they birth and how they look in perfect shape with flat stomachs within weeks of having their baby. In Denmark Princess Mary has now had two births with epidural and it has started an epidural epidemic. She is now pregnant with twins, so lets see what trend that can bring on.
Apart from all this most of us give birth in institutions that have nothing to do with instinct and primordial knowledge. This is a completely different kind of knowledge which is needed to birth in our modern hospital culture. More after the jump…
So what do we need to know about giving birth:
We have within us all the knowledge it takes to physically birth a baby, but social conditioning has taught us not to trust or act on our gut knowing–until we have thought it through, second guessed it, or checked with others about what they think or would do. So part of preparing for birth is about re connecting with our instinct and gut feeling and be able to distinguish this feeling from fear. We are in this instinctual knowing, when we are in our bodies, not in our thinking minds.
But we also need a kind of modern knowing. This is about being savvy about how things work in our modern medical system. We need to learn about hospital birth culture, how does things work in a setting like that, how do we negotiate with staff to get what we want and need, what are the common policies and procedures for variations of birth, interventions and caesarean sections. I believe you need this knowing whether you birth at home or in hospital. Exploring this kind of knowing might also help us decide where we actually want to labour and birth our babies.
And then we also need to know about who we are. We need to know ourselves. This is about being aware of what our new brain are telling us about birth, which can easily overcloud our instinctual knowing. We need to be aware of our deep seeded beliefs about birth, our fears and wishes, and why we are choosing what we are choosing, what our family history of birth has taught us. This can be quite confronting but also incredibly liberating.
Preparing for birth is very important. It is crucial though to prepare both your body, mind and soul. Unfortunately the hospital preparation is too often the only preparation couples do (maybe apart from some yoga) and hospitals generally only work through how birth is managed at their particular hospital, which in many cases has very little to do with safety or evidence based practice.
Preparing for birth is about women and their partners taking charge of their birth experience again. Not about being told how to birth whether that is non medical homebirth or elective caesarean. It is about taking the opportunity to explore what is right for you and your baby’s birth and get enough information to make informed decisions.
This blog post is using the ideas from the American birth philosophy Birthing from Within www.birthingfromwithin.com