Guest Blog: Why birth gets a bad name, by Rachel Smith
Have you decided what your baby’s name will be? People often consider what feeling they get when they hear a name, if it feels right or suits the child.
What feeling do you get when you think of birth? Do you call it ‘labour’? Does an image of a woman lying on a hospital bed with her legs in stirrups, screaming and sweating, a pained look on her face, and a dumbfounded partner come to mind?! Sure, we’ve all seen at least one film or tv programme that shows birth like that.
Births like that certainly do exist – BUT it doesn’t have to be that way! That wasn’t the way our bodies were designed to give birth, yet we generally seem to accept that this is what birth will be like for us.
We all want the best for our children and now that you are a parent (or an expectant one) you will be analysing every decision you make. Which is the best buggy? Which car seat is safest? I wonder if these nappies will be comfy or if they’ll leak? We won’t ‘settle’ for less than the best for our children.
Why is it then that so many of us ‘settle’ for the idea that birth is going to be awful? We think it’s going to be long and painful and we are going to be out of control, at the mercy of the midwives. We are ready to leave our dignity at the door and reckon our partners will see us in a completely different light after the event. But we accept that it’s a necessary evil in order to meet our child.
It’s largely because of the media. Films dramatize birth. Reality shows choose to air the births packed with more ‘action’, the ones where they may be a touch and go moment to keep you interested. And there’s a good reason why – birth at its best doesn’t make for good TV. When birth is going well there really isn’t a lot to see.
We’ve been fed this negative idea of birth through the media and we’ve probably heard stories from friends or family to add fuel to the fire. People do love to tell a birth ‘horror’ story but fewer people speak about their beautiful births. I can only assume that this is because a) the ones with the good stories don’t want to brag in front of others who have had negative experiences and b) the ones with the bad stories find it cathartic to offload.
Now I know this is a big ask if you’ve had one idea of birth your whole life: please believe me when I say that birth can be amazing! If you are pregnant, please look forward to giving birth, don’t be scared of it. It can be the most incredible, intimate and empowering experience you will ever have.
Have a look at these examples of beautiful calm births to see what I mean – they are real and birth does happen like this every day all over the world!
• Shari’s natural homebirth https://youtu.be/Y8YKqqGHkkY
• Daisy’s homebirth https://youtu.be/RNhVLKU6zF8
• Oliver’s pain free water birth https://youtu.be/LRUxqyzk9EE
Birth can be quick. Birth can be comfortable. It might not be, but it can be. There are lots of unknowns as each and every birth is different, but birth can always be calm – that is one of the few things you can control and I can show you how.
On my hypnobirthing courses I teach you how to stay calm and relaxed throughout birth so that you can have the most comfortable and most positive experience. We are realistic that birth can sometimes take unexpected turns and that you might not get your perfect birth, but we prepare for this. Understanding your options and knowing how to feel in control can help you to feel positive about your birth no matter which route it takes.
We also work on letting go of any fears you have and replacing any negative ideas about birth with positive ones. So then you can enjoy the rest of your pregnancy, looking forward to your birth! It is, after all, the moment you meet your baby for the first time!
Please don’t ‘settle’ for that negative view of birth, you deserve better than that. Birth has had a lot of bad press over the last century (I mean, I’m totally guessing the dates here but that sounds about right). It’s time women claimed back their right to have a beautiful birth, to feel confident, calm and in control. You need to know that you have choices and what they are. And you need to understand how you can have the most comfortable birth for you. I make no promises – every birth is different and some births do need to take a more medicalised route – but you should be able to have a positive experience that’s right for you and your baby.
Oh and by the way - yes your partner will most certainly see you differently afterwards! That’s not because of anything gruesome they’ve witnessed, but because they are proud of you and full of love and emotion; they have seen the strength, determination, passion and focus that you put in to bringing your baby into the world.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hi I'm Rachel, a mum and founder of The Calm Birthsmith. I run hypnobirthing antenatal courses and baby massage classes in Surrey and London. My passion is helping women to have lovely births and empowering new parents.