I’m finding that as the birth of my son draws closer and closer, I’m experiencing a lot of mixed emotions. Not about the arrival of my son – I’m very much looking forward to meeting him (and not being pregnant anymore). But, I’m finding that I’m becoming much more determined and strengthened than I was when I gave birth to my daughter. On the one hand, I’m really trying to recognize that sometimes birth just isn’t predictable, and that even the most careful planing may be pointless. It was certainly the case with my daughter, and my failure to recognize that led to a lot of emotional grief in the days, weeks and months after her birth. However, I’m finding that the more I try to recognize that, the more my mind keeps going back to the idea that birth is a natural process. It may not be predictable, but it is something that women are designed to do.
When I gave birth to my daughter, as hard as it is for me to admit this, I didn’t fully believe that my body was capable. I have been raised in a society that highly values doctors and alopathic medicine, and the ‘passive patient’ model of care. But, the birth of my daughter really helped me to understand that this is such a backwards way of thinking about healing, particularly healing during pregnancy. The book ‘Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth’ really drove the point home for me, when Ina May, a self trained midwife, talking about all of the births she attended in her early years, before any real training, says that birth cannot be seen as something that needs to be treated, as most doctors see it. In fact, if it wasn’t a normal, natural process, how could she, a lay person, have helped so many women safely bring their children into the world? Doctors see birth as a medical emergency which needs immediate management. Obviously, as Ina May so deftly points out, this cannot be the case. No other event which is so highly medically managed can also be so easily UNmanaged. Women can birth their babies at home, by themselves, just as successfully as any doctor in a hospital, nearly every time.
So, there in lies my source of conflict. We are a part of a society that places such value on our ready access to medical care when we need it. But, I’m am starting to see, so very often that that supposed ‘care’ is the source of the problems in the first place. And, while I know that there are some issues which really are best handled by doctors (i.e. REAL medical emergencies caused by problems with a birth), I really do remain unconvinced that the ideal I was striving for with my daughter is not the best option. If anything, the experience that we had during my daughter’s birth has strengthened my conviction that a hands-off approach to birth is the best and safest way. And so, while I had such a difficult time in coping with our highly medicalized birth last time, I just simply cannot prepare myself for the same eventuality this time. It is so far outside my understanding of what is ‘right’, that i just cannot conceptualize having to go through that again.