It’s almost time for a new arrival to my family; a new grandchild will be welcomed into our embrace and I could not be happier. Three more weeks…. There are a lot of books on birth, many classes that (aim to) teach women how to labour well and hospitals nowadays seem to be stretched to cope such is the demand.
Giving birth has become something quite different to how it used to be that’s for sure and thank goodness for that to tell you the truth, but have we lost something along the way?
Women have been having babies and sharing knowledge with each other since the beginning of time; women love to talk and to share. It’s tribal in a sense and with this celebration we share the stories of women’s experiences, the gentlest and yet most profound way of passing on the knowledge from one generation to the next.
It has been a part of our culture since early last century for women to keep silent on the stories of childbirth, it’s not that long ago that pregnant women would hide their belly from the eyes of the world. That wasn't a healthy attitude, today’s ways are more accepting. My mother didn't tell me a thing about giving birth until I was walking the ward trying to hurry my daughter up; it was like a big secret, as if no-one would have children if they really knew - and she thought it shameful to show your pregnant belly in public – I do wonder what she would think of today’s maternity fashion?
Women are more open about their appearance these days, yet we are still in a society that separates us from our support base of family and friends until we have the baby
Many women continue to work until the last week or so, and we don’t celebrate openly the nine months of change our body and mind goes through. Women to a large degree seek knowledge through books, and not our mothers; we seem to only seek the support from the medical profession. It is so intellectualised and yet, to give birth is so instinctual, so primal and so sacred. We need the medical world, but we also need our stories and we need to engage our hearts and gut instinct. The more experience we have with other women, be they family or friends the more supported we women usually feel. The less experience we have of birth through the stories, support and knowledge of such women in our tribe, our community, the more fearful we can become.
It is a simple fact that such fears can create pain or have us feel the pain to a greater degree – knowledge and support can be so soothing to the nerves.
Sure, it's completely normal to be a little fearful of what lies ahead, but the more you can learn about the process, the more you feel the support and love of the women in your life, the more you can relax into it. When my first grandchild was born, all four grandparents sat in the waiting room – maybe that was putting us in our place but somehow it just seemed abnormal to me, and what a waste?
The less experience we have with birth, the more fearful we become, and the more fearful we become, the more painful labour might feel, which makes it harder to cope with (and since we didn't know how to cope with it in the first place, we're really in a bad state now). Women ‘in the olden days’ grew up knowing all about childbirth, as it was at home and was a normal part of life.
Women were supported by other women during birth, and girls always knew what labour looked like, sounded like, and knew exactly how a child entered the world. When birth moved into the hospitals, we gained so many good things and many women’s lives have been made safe, but along the way we lost some good things.
I say reclaim those good things once shared; celebrate with your mothers, mothers in law, aunties and sisters.
Let's share these stories of life, let's learn (and help others) to cope and experience these moments. By sharing this knowledge between us gives women power and that beats fear every time!
Sharing time with women before birth can help ease all sorts of anxieties and give room for wisdom and experience to be shared. A few years ago a woman asked me to prepare a birthing circle for her and her friends, a new spin on the ordinary baby shower where instead of lots of onesies, she was armed with information that would help her in one of her finest moments. Now that's a gift!
I would love to hear your thoughts:
What would you have wanted to know when pregnant? If you are pregnant at the moment - what knowledge are you seeking? How are you preparing? Has anyone been a part of a birthing circle before? What was that experience like?
Remember, any comments you can share might help support a sister somewhere out in this cyber world!
I'll keep you posted on the little one, till we meet again next time