It is indeed a challenge to counter birth fright. I’ve pondered on this issue ever since experiencing a home birth in February 2006. It was then that I realized that natural childbirth could never truly exist in the medical model. There is nothing there that indicates that the process of birth is trusted. Everything done within the medical model is in preparation for the birth process to “go wrong” with no understanding that most of the time the process of birth goes wrong because it’s been tampered with….machines have no place in the natural process of birth – not if we truly trust birth.
As a childbirth educator, I’ve had many expectant couples express their level of fear about the upcoming event. An event that they should be looking forward to but, instead are fearful of….the woman wants to know how “painful” it will be and her lover wonders if she can really do this….if they understand the process and trusted it these concerns shouldn’t exist.
The first challenge seems to be finding out what about the process is not understood or believed or trusted? What has the couple been exposed to that brings about the misunderstanding, disbelief and mistrust? Once we know the cause, we can then attempt to teach the couple how to trust birth. We can show them the flaws in what they’ve learned so far to help them understand the process better so they are able to find peace and calm within the months of pregnancy thereby being able to prepare for the event of birth and how it will forever change them – as individuals, as a couple and as a family unit.
Then comes the challenge of disproving what they think they know – what the medical model has taught – that brings about birth fright. We share with them the intentions of the medical model is not necessarily to do harm but to be prepared. We want someone to know how to handle things if things should go wrong but sometimes (most times) what the process needs is for everyone to leave the process alone. Sometimes we misinterpret the process and interfere when interference is not needed. If this were not true, there would not be so many humans living on the face of the earth today. We also may find it helpful to show scientific proof that the process of birth works best when left alone. There are many studies available today with such information. Couples find it easier to believe when they can see the proof. They find it easier to talk with their chosen birth team when they can show the proof. They find it even easier to make changes to both the birth team and birth place when they understand the scientific proof – when birth is no longer something to be afraid of.
Finally, the couple needs to know they are responsible for the outcome….anyone who tells them differently has removed from them their right to make an informed choice. Parents are responsible for how their children come into the world. They are responsible for educating themselves and putting together the birth team and choosing the birth location that is best for them and their situation. The couple who comes out of a birth experience looking like a deer caught in the headlights is a couple who, for whatever reason, did not take their responsibility as parents seriously enough to find out the truth about the choices they were making and therefore did not have the information necessary to make a truly informed choice. This should never happen….