Birth, Parenting, Pregnancy

Are We Teaching Them to Trust Birth?

As the mother of nine (eight of whom I gave birth to), I have begun to ask myself one question when I am making personal decisions – What do I want my children to learn from my choice? This has changed the decision making process because it forces me to look toward the future and the life I desire for my children.

I have eight very different birth stories that belong to eight very different pregnancies and children. Each one is unique and each taught me lessons that helped in my decision making for the next pregnancy, labor, birth, and breastfeeding. It wasn’t until recently that I started to apply my question above to the choices I make during pregnancy, labor and birth. What do I want my children to learn from my choice?

This is not only what I want my daughters to learn but also what I want my sons to learn because they will someday support their lover in the labor and birth of children. So, do I want my children to learn that the natural processes of pregnancy, labor, birth and breastfeeding work? Do I want them to learn that these processes work best when left alone? OR Do I want them to learn to question these natural processes, which, in turn, may cause them to question ALL natural processes?

I am a woman of faith – I believe there is a God, that He does love me and that the processes of pregnancy, labor, birth and breastfeeding are indeed His processes. Do I want my children to learn to trust God? To have faith in His processes? OR Do I want them to learn that man knows better than God? That God’s processes are flawed and therefore can’t be trusted? Do I want them to learn about faith and that it cannot reside in the same space as fear? OR Do I want them to learn to put their faith in man because man knows better?

Do I want my children to learn the importance of knowledge and education in ALL decisions? OR Do I want them to learn that they can simply trust what they are being told? Do I want my children to follow blindly? OR Do I want my children to think for themselves – making informed choices after much research, study, pondering and prayer?

As a natural childbirth educator I have learned how to share the information along with its resources so that my students can seek better understanding on their own. I do not work for the hospital, doctor or midwife but for the student couple. I teach my students that their choices will impact their lives for many years to come and they must be willing to accept the outcome of those choices. Their choices are their responsibility not mine, not their doctor’s nor their chosen birth place. They have the responsibility to educate themselves, to ask questions, to make changes if necessary, etc.

So now I ask the question – Are we teaching them to trust birth? Are we, the childbirth educators, the birth attendants and birth places teaching couples to trust birth? I’ve had couples come through my class who totally trusted the process even though they had never been through the event yet. They understood how the process worked and that they were specifically designed to carry, labor and give birth to children. They, however, did not have the practical knowledge of experience to back up the theory they had learned and had come to know as being truth.

These couples routinely choose to labor and birth at home or in out-of-hospital birth centers because they have learned through the study of the theory of labor and birth that the process is less likely to be interfered with in these locations. A wise choice….Can we trust birth in the hospital?

Sadly, I believe the answer to be “No” – at least not at this point in history. There actually has not yet been a point in American history where birth has been completely trusted in the hospital setting. Women have experienced quite a bit of abuse (for lack of a better word) when birthing in the hospital. Are the doctors, nurses or hospitals responsible? I have to say “Not entirely” – their intentions are good (at least I still believe that to be true most of the time). Insurance companies have part of the blame as well.

You see in order for doctors, nurses and hospitals to get paid (and paid well), the bill coding must be done just right and the more procedures that are performed the more they can bill for so the more money they make. I will not go further into that topic as we don’t have time for that right now and that is not the focus of this blog post.

What is bringing about my question – Are we teaching them to trust birth? A variety of things….

Last night I attended my first home birth as a student midwife and I loved every minute of it. After spending the past 5 years attending births as a birth doula in hospitals it was quite refreshing to sit and encourage the laboring woman to do whatever felt right to her – none of her choices would be wrong unless a choice was made to make someone else happy.

When she asked if there was anything she could do to make things happen faster, she was taught what could be done, educated on how it would effect her labor, how the contraction intensity would change, and then encouraged to choose what felt right for her at that point in time. THAT does not happen in the hospital.

Are we teaching them to trust birth? How do we teach a woman who does not understand the process enough to trust it fully? The answer is in the question – we teach her about the process so she understands it fully and is able to accept the process for what it is – the natural design of her body. We teach her that she does know what to do but she may unintentionally do things that are counterproductive. We teach her what those things are so she and her husband/coach can be mindful – watching for those things.

We teach the husband/coach that this will be the most difficult thing they will ever do together and that the only thing he will be able to do is the most important thing he can do – LOVE her. Love her enough to give her the gift of this event – it will mold her and shape her….helping her to become the woman God intended her to be. Creating the wife and mother who will be able to handle the everyday stresses of life and occasional struggles that come up as we travel down the path of life.

I will continue to teach them to trust birth….THAT is the greatest gift I can give to the couples I teach (and to each of my children).

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