|"The aim of any futuristic birth
strategy should be that
as many women as possible give birth vaginally, thanks to an
of love hormones. The future of our civilizations is at stake."
(Michel Odent, MD)
| Birth Obstacles
Birthing difficulties are so often rooted in emotional discord.
A big one is fear:
fear of the unknown and fear from bad birth stories.
Another is discord
disrupting the way nature wants us to birth. Hospital birth is far from
Nature's Way and makes woman afraid - and woman instinctively stops
labour when afraid. "Animal
studies have shown that when animal mothers are
frightened labor stops. This may represent nature’s way to
let the laboring
female flee a potential danger” (Klaus, Kennel and Klaus,
1993 [cited in Bak, 2003]).
is the discord
that unconsciously emerges from people at the birth bringing their own
interventionist birth history or intellectually-based ideas of how
birth should be, or their adrenalised state. The
progress of labour
is to a great extent
dependent on the adrenaline levels of those around the labouring
The primary reason for all this is the removal
of birth from the wisdom of women.
Power and control over birth has been usurped by science and medicine.
Birth has been medicalised.
Woman is well-designed for birth - if she can be instinctual, primal.
all the time, birth
is NOT a medical event.
Worldwide, the biggest cause of maternal death is poor maternal health
and diet, and especially poor hygiene.
So, we need to:
Here are some
about all this by Colleen Bak excerpted from her article The Role of
Fear in the U.S. Birthing Process (Midwifery Today,
control of birth back to women. See how here.
lots of positive, natural births. This reduces the fear of the unknown.
movies and TV to
include natural birth, preferably as the default type. Avoid scenes
with terrified woman begging for drugs. Rather, let us witness the
positive power of women!!
need to choose
carefully who they want at their birth. This is NOT the time to be
polite. Surely you need people around who you feel comfortable with? A
doula may be a wise choice. Supporters of the labouring mother could
engage in repetitive tasks (e.g. knitting) to reduce anxiety,
and maintain a balance between privacy and availability (holding
the sacred space).
is inherently a female activity. The choice, the
ability, the power to give birth is innately female. Historically women
the sole possessors of birthing knowledge and technique, and in certain
cultures and time periods men feared them as a result of this (Arms
1996 [cited in Bak, 2003]). In
some places and times it was thought that women’s control
over life also
enabled them a certain control over death, and in others, female birth
attendants were murdered as witches due to their ability to magically
the birthing process. As a result of their pivotal roles in birth and
female healers “began to be shunned, persecuted, and often
even put to
death…women healers everywhere were driven underground by
those who feared
their powers” (Mauger 2000: 126 [cited in Bak, 2003]).
once men were the primary candidates to experience
fear of women and birth, today women are the primary candidates to
fear of and during birth. This shift was caused by numerous changes in
environment of birth as well as in the attitudes and techniques of
attending it, which was largely brought on through the medicalization
childbirth. The fear can partially be attributed to external stressors,
the unnatural setting in which birth normally takes place in current
the inadequate level of support women are often provided with and the
lack of understanding and familiarity women have of the process.
emotional state of fear, on the part of the birthing
woman, can have a negative impact on the progress of her labor and her
experience of birth. The negative response to fear is often manifested
the slowing down or arrest of labor. This physiological phenomenon is
observable in animals whose bodies have been shown to instinctively
when a threat is perceived. “Animal studies have shown that
when animal mothers
are frightened labor stops. This may represent nature’s way
to let the laboring
female flee a potential danger” (Klaus, Kennel and Klaus
1993: 144 [cited in Bak, 2003]). The same
occurrence has also often been noted in women upon arrival to the
the appearance of the obstetrician. The hospital, as well as the
can elicit nervous reactions that can trigger an instinctive response
potential danger (Odent 2002 [cited in Bak, 2003]). To some women, they may personify their
lack of power or decision-making and thus evoke fear and subsequently
and stress via feelings of powerlessness.
to the environment or atmosphere that a woman
labors in is the human support system that occupies it with her. This
group can comprise the birthing woman’s partner, friends and
family. It may
also include professional labor support from nurses, midwives,
and doulas. The efficiency of a birthing woman’s support
system is one of the
factors directly related to the amount of fear and anxiety from
outside of labor that she experiences. It has been documented that
important factor in alleviating the anxiety that most women feel upon
at the hospital is the attitude of the people helping her”
(Klaus, Kennel and
Klaus 1993: 144 [cited in Bak, 2003]). The effectiveness of support people in alleviating
stress, fear and anxiety is reliant on their relationship to the
woman, as well as the type and/or quality of support they provide. The
qualifier of a support person is that she or he maintains a presence
birthing woman. This minimal requirement is frequently impossible for
nurses, midwives and obstetricians practicing in hospitals. However, it
more of an option for providers practicing in homes or independent
centers, where the client-to-provider ratios are significantly
use of touch in birth is altered when birth is
located within the social space of the hospital. In modern hospitals
“reliance on technology for enhancing and monitoring labour,
may restrict and
alter the way in which we use touch to comfort, support and encourage
through labour” (Page 2000: 116 [cited in Bak, 2003]). The reliance on technology
negatively affect the amount of overall interaction busy hospital staff
have with women. Often the vital signs of a birthing woman and her
fetus can be
monitored from the nursing station, which is advantageous and
staff members as it allows them to watch more clients at a time (Arms
1996 [cited in Bak, 2003]). In
addition, U.S. research comparing the level and kind of support
provided by first-time
fathers and that of doulas indicates that “women touch the
mother 95 percent of
the time, but men only 20 percent of the time that they are present,
that men choose to be there for shorter periods” (Kitzinger
2000: 123 [cited in Bak, 2003]). Each of
these findings increases the importance of adequate support provided
birthing woman by outside trained women. However most women in the U.S.
do not employ doulas, nor do they compensate for this with other
adequate labor support. This lack of sufficient support during the
process often leads to increased fear and anxiety levels.
women in current U.S. society are not exposed to
the birthing process, as was general practice in most traditional
(Arms 1996; Gaskin 2003; [both cited in Bak, 2003]). Rather, in the U.S., birth happens behind
doors and the majority of women do not witness births before they
give birth. Kitzinger (2000 [cited in Bak, 2003]) observes that if a woman “is
having her first baby
she has only the vaguest idea of how birth really feels and how other
cope. Birth is set apart from the rest of women’s lives and
accepted as a
matter of specialist knowledge”... Whereas once women
“specialist knowledge,” the medicalization of
childbirth polarized the birthing
process, transforming it into a specific medical event and limiting
birthing knowledge to medical professionals. Birth became something
performed on women, rather than something that women performed, and
this transformation the knowledge and experience of birthing was
the confines of physicians and hospitals. Birth has been removed from
in the realm of natural female experiences, and this removal has
denied generations of women the right to observe, participate in and
understand the birthing process before they themselves experience it.
It is a
naturally occurring factor of the human psyche to fear the unknown, and
the scientific veiling of the birthing process, birth has been
the unknown for the majority of U.S. primiparas.
- The Positive Birth Movement [Aims to challenge the epidemic of negativity and fear that surrounds modern birth, and help change birth for the better].
Labor: Past & Present (Judy Edmunds, Midwifery Today,
Issue 46, 1998) [Not availaible online].
Role of Fear in the U.S. Birthing Process (Colleen Bak, Midwifery Today, Issue 67, 2003).
Midwives for Drugless Childbirth? (Michel Odent, MD, Midwifery Today,
Issue 71, 2004) [Members only].
We Be So Very
Scared of Giving Birth? (Milli Hill, HuffPost, 2012-2013).
- The Power of One (Sister MorningStar, Midwifery Today,
Issue 122, 2017).
many lessons can be learned here on how to minimize or avoid complications,
some are truly unavoidable. We should do our best to enter labor with a willing body and open heart, knowing we have
done our best. Fifteen percent of births really do need medical help of some
kind. The other 85% will come out just fine if we live a healthy lifestyle, and
relax, being confident to let nature take its course, while being vigilant for
signs that help of some kind may be indeed needed."
(Marlene Waechter, Midwifery Today, dated 2018, accessed 13 September 2018)
- Five Countries, Six Births, Seven Babies: Mother Nature’s Design for Birth (Love Delivers, Midwifery Today) [48 minute DVD for $26].
- Tell me a good birth story [Various free resources including Birth Stories].
CAN orgasm in childbirth! 'Birthgasm' mum
describes her pleasurable labour and how she did it (Daily
Mirror, 2015) [Note the reference to how the vocal chords and
vagina look and work the same. By freeing the woman's voice in her birth (primal,
instinctive sounds or whatever she wants) and in her life will help
overcome birth obstacles! Women do NOT have freedom - and this is an
obstacle to natural birth.]
- VBAC: Very Beautiful and Courageous (Lynn Richards, Midwifery Today, 2015) [VBAC = Vaginal Birth after Cesarean. In an unspiritual and apparently unsafe world, the VBAC journey is usually a spiritual one, of trusting our bodies and life.].
- Changing the Language of Childbirth (Susan Highsmith, Midwifery Today, 2016).
Obstacles - Sexual Abuse
Pain & Birth
Culture of Touch