Recently I was fortunate enough to spend an evening with a group of very brave women. I say brave because they shared their birth stories with us. Big deal, women do that all the time. This, was a very big deal; a heart wrenching, tear jerker of a big deal. These ladies had suffered traumatic births, some more than one! Of course I’ve read about women who are coerced into interventions they don’t want or often, don’t need or feel powerless against the pressure they feel to go against what their intuition is telling them. Yes, I know the rising C-section rate is alarming and that we have moved very far away from what is natural, normal and what should be a joyful birth process.
While I sympathized with moms who experience a birth that is more like an assault than a beautiful, life changing and life affirming, rite of passage, I really didn’t understand the emotional toll and damage it does, until I heard these women bravely tell their stories. It shocked me to learn they were told, “If you don’t do it my way, your baby is going to die”. Which would be okay, had it been true. These moms are devastated by their experiences only to have people say, “At least you have a healthy baby”, as if she doesn’t know that and is just being ungrateful and selfish. Why can’t she have both? A beautiful birth memory AND a healthy baby. It is possible; I see it all the time with parents who do HypnoBirthing.
It broke my heart. And it made me angry. This big, dark, dirty secret that everyone knows about but little is being done to change it. Yes, some strides have been made in bringing birth back to a more natural state, the way nature intended it to be. But we have a LONG way to go.
I’m not going to point a finger at the people responsible, you know who you are. I just wish you could have been there that night, it would change the way you practice. I’m not going to try and convey how much pain I witnessed in these courageous women, I could never do it justice. No, this is a call to action for moms, dads, and birth workers to educate themselves.
The stories I hear from my HypnoBirthing parents are much more positive and joyful. That doesn’t mean their births go the way they planned. Even after a C-section, they often come away feeling good about their experience. Why? Because they are empowered, confident and have learned the skills they need to be in control of their births. It has been shown mothers (and fathers) who advocate for themselves have a more positive view of their birth, regardless of the outcome.
I’m reminded of bullies on a school yard who pick on kids who are shy, quiet, with low self-esteem, because they are easy targets. Children who are empowered and confident are less likely to be bullied. It’s the same with birthing parents. When they know their rights and can make informed decisions they are less likely to be bullied into interventions and procedures they don’t want.
As a nurse, I’ve always been an advocate for my patients. I wrote, “It’s Better To Be a Good Parent Than A Good Patient”, for my website because it is something I say throughout my class. Please don’t get me wrong, there many birth professionals that are caring, compassionate and respectful of the birthing mother. Just be sure the caregiver you chose is one of them. They are a major factor in your birthing.
You owe it to yourself to learn your rights and the questions you need to ask to make a truly informed consent. Investigate what a natural, normal birth is and how your body is perfectly designed for it. At the very least, watch a dog or cat give birth. That’s what birth looks like without someone standing there with interventions at the ready.
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