Today I read Childbirth Videos: Helpful or Hard to Watch? , another good article on the dilemma I’ve been thinking about for some time. I think it is valuable for women of all ages, men too, to know how babies are born. It is too bad that many movies present birth as a dramatic event, when often times birth is down right boring. Oops! Did I just say that? Did no one ever tell you that? Boring. Birth is boring. Heck, not to the mom who is giving birth, not to the daddy waiting to catch his baby and not to me who is a birth nut (and you if you are reading this). But if one is not aware that there is a very holy thing happening when a new person is born, if a birth attendant is not in love with this family then they should not be in the room. They will be bored. If you are just looking at the mechanics of birth and not the LOVE quotient then birth is boring. It’s like watching people make love. Do you look the other way or stare at Public Displays of Affection? I don’t know many people that stare. That’s how birth should be. Janet Isaacs Ashford wrote Natural Love: A Parody. It’s a fictional account of newlyweds Kate and Sam, who take a class in “prepared love,” and are admitted to the hospital’s “natural love room.” But many intrusions by staff and the use of monitoring devices cause things to go awry and their love must be mechanically resolved.
Recently I viewed Shiloh’s quick and peaceful water birth. I realized my favorite births and birth videos and teaching tools involve births where you never see the baby’s head crowning. I like to think that this baby was conceived in private, grew in mommy’s belly in private and will be mothered the rest of his life in private (for the most part). Why should this baby be born into strangers hands with mom in an uncomfortable position, spread eagle, splayed out, for the convenience of this stranger, doctor, catcher????
In my town there is a television news commentator and investigative reporter, named Turko. Everyone in Southern California knows about The Turko Files. The slogan and quip this commentator uses is, “It Ain’t Right”. He goes on to right wrongs, seeking justice for the everyday citizen. “It Ain’t Right!” keeps ringing in my head when I watch women birthing on their backs. Call me a Turko want-to-be but these women are made to look like turkeys; on their back, feet in stirrups, sometimes with strangers hands up all the way up the birth canal, vagina, baby slide, whatever you want to call it, not unlike a turkey. It’s not right! I got angry the other night and my boyfriend joined in the list of funny and not-so-funny reasons that this supine positioning for birth is so WRONG. He said something hilarious (side note: he’s the funniest man on the planet!), I laughed so hard I started crying and then I did cry. When will hospitals let women birth intuitively, in whatever position is good for the mom (which usually means it’s the position baby needs too)? Get off your back! How many of us have only had sex on our back? Okay sometimes maybe, but always???? Nope.
Last week I had the honor of attending a woman’s homebirth. She gave birth to her baby in a small deep warm pool of water. During her labor she always made great progress when we left her alone, in the privacy of her bedroom, with her man. During the birth she stayed in the middle of the pool (in her kitchen) providing herself an isolated space, where no one could interfere with her work. It was even hard for the midwife to reach her belly to take fetal heart tones (but of course the midwife did get FHT, looking like a trapeze artist, balancing on the pools edge!). We (the midwife, father, doula) never saw this Mama’s bottom, perineum, vagina, as baby was born. Mom was in a sqatting position in the middle of the pool, with HER hand on her yoni. Mom felt her baby crown and only after baby’s head was born did the dad and midwife help by supporting baby’s head (not pulling on it). We saw baby’s cute face through the water but we did not see Mama’s vagina. Nope, there was no need to be staring at this birthing woman’s vagina! Then mom pushed out the body and then received her baby.
Side Note: after mom got out of water, she went to bed to birth the placenta. After a while the midwife checked her perineum for lacerations. No repair was needed. I was not present, it was very private. No extra people staring at this angelic Mommy’s vagina! She just had a beautiful, hard but beautiful, Home Birth After Cesarean.
Since we no longer live in small towns where neighbors look out for each other like in early settler days, days when women cared for each other in childbirth, strong brave women rolled up their sleeves, came in from the fields and birthed their young or helped a neighbor give birth (they were not delivered), it is almost impossible for most of us to know that women don’t birth on their backs. If left to your own instincts where would you birth? Who knows? I had two hospital births and one homebirth, all on my back. I was conditioned. I was compliant. I was fortunate back then, 25 years ago, to have vaginal births. Some women that have cesareans may have avoided them by having the freedom to move around in labor. Many cesarean sections could be prevented if women could push in her good time, with her body’s urgings, in the position that feels right for her. I know many brave strong women. Some have birthed by cesarean section, some on their backs in hospital, some standing in birth centers, and some how ever they want at home.
I am very amazed at my fortune, I am rich to know these women, I am truly blessed to be a Birth Doula. I would like to be a good Turko and report that today we went from “It Ain’t Right” to “It’s All Right! Let this Mama birth how she sees fit”…in my lifetime? In my childrens life time? I pray it’s so.
Love you madly, Rosie