Your Birth Matters

Your birth belongs to you, leave the rest up to me.

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Filtering by Tag: birth

Watch Your Mouth

There is a language we speak and hear about birth, that is so devastatingly oppressive, yet so subtly woven into our vocabulary.
Words and phrases, used by professionals and parents and everyone involved, that hinder us both subconsciously, and outright,
in our daily lives, and through the generations.

I see these words every day, in so many conversations, & they need to change.
Phrases  like "my doctor let me" or words like "delivered".

Human language has a way of molding how we experience life.
The language of birth should be uplifting, joyous, and strong.

The words we use should promote the mother's ability and inherent rights.
Not convince us we cannot birth without intervention, permission, or deliverance.


The fact is, that all language, from all cultures, has many words rooted in negativity, or fear.
Famed Obstetrician, Michel Odent, speaks in an issue of The Primal Health Newsletter, of the language that young medical students are exposed to in their studies of anatomy.

For example, the term for external genital organs, is Pudenda.
What is the root of this word? The Latin verb, pudere, which means 'to be ashamed'.

Another example is the word obstetrics. The Latin root of this word is obstetrix, which means midwife.
And the literal interpretation of this is... a woman standing in front of.
There are numerous examples of this throughout medical terminology, and through many cultures.


It would seriously suggest that through cultural conditioning that,  not only do we view in all proper terms, the genitals as shameful,  but that we are "brainwashed" into believing that women cannot give birth without someone standing in front of them.

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Dr. Odent makes an interesting point in this article, comparing the language used by two different cultures, and their cesarean rates.

In Chinese, the term for a woman having a baby, is often jie Sheng
. This means "delivery carried out by others".
On the contrast, in the Russian language, the commonly used terms is rodila which means "I gave birth".

The difference here is not too noticeable, or is it?
It is marked by implying an active participation in the birth, as opposed to a birth that must be managed by another person.

Here's the kicker to that comparison.

WHO reported that in 2008, the Chinese cesarean rate was at 25.9, and the unnecessary cesarean rate was at 31.8.
Russia's cesarean rate was 18.0, with an unnecessary cesarean rate of 0.7.

The question Dr Odent asks is, could it be possible, that cultural language conditioning has this much of an effect on birth outcomes?
Not only the cesarean rates are markedly different, but the number of unnecessary cesareans are so far apart, that it's not unreasonable to assume there is an effect on outcomes, based on how we view and teach and speak of birth.


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Words like
DELIVERED
COACH
CARE
 influence us subconsciously, into feeling that women cannot labor without management.



Even the terms
Natural Birth Method
and
Childbirth education

leave a woman subconsciously assuming that birth is NOT natural or normal and must be taught and managed.


As a birth worker, I support women obtaining knowledge about their pregnancy, birth, & their babies.
In our culture, most childbirth education is completely appropriate and necessary. Especially considering the maze of policies and procedures to weed through, since most women have babies in hospitals.

The focus of birth and pregnancy education should serve to un-teach, the generations of negative beliefs and anecdotes that has been engrained within them.
And as birth workers, we need to watch what we say. We have the power in the words we choose to use, to help women rediscover the truth.

What is that truth?
That we are mammals. We need to remember that physiologically, we are made to give birth, without observation and management. Just give birth.
Because most of the time, birth is normal.




Now I know that we cannot rewrite history, change medical textbooks, or flip a magic switch here. But there are things we can do to change the atmosphere of birth language.

We can start by utilizing language that is positive and honest.

Midwife Ina May Gaskin is known for calling contractions "rushes" - to literally bring a better sense and feeling to the word.
Does this (among other things) contribute to The Farm Midwifery Center's amazing birth outcomes?

A ZERO percent maternal mortality rate, or a 1.7 percent cesarean rate? I think it really might. Especially considering many of the almost 3,000 births have been what we refer to as "high risk" - twins, breech, & mothers with more than 5 children.
Is "High risk" possibly a negative term that's being overused and is influencing?

It certainly is.

In the same sense, many homebirth midwives refer to themselves as "catching" babies, as opposed to the ever popular term, "deliver babies' - used by obstetricians and hospital professionals.

-If we all formed a habit, of calling things by positive names,
(such as contraction being named "rushes")
-If we started referring to birth without fear based language
(words like high risk or trial of labor)
-If we denied scare tactics,
(women being told they are not safe birthing at home)

-If we talk to our peers and children about birth in a positive & normal fashion
(no more scary stories or comparisons)

we may be able to change some of the stigma around birth as a whole

Because that's what it is, stigma.
Negative references or a mark of disgrace.


-From the earliest of time, men believed women could not birth alone,
doctors believe all birth is a medical event,
that women are patients,
babies must be
hurried out,
taught to breastfeed,
separated as soon as possible...

These are all working against us.
And it started with how someone viewed, and spoke, of birth.



Today I want to see women & professionals choose their words carefully.

After all, your daughters will be mothers, and your sons, fathers.

So watch your mouth.





http://www.who.int/healthsystems/topics/financing/healthreport/30C-sectioncosts.pdf

http://www2.cfpc.ca/local/user/files/%7B23013556-3CFB-408F-9B5C-D7A7D61CD629%7D/vol15no4.pdf

http://www.thefarmmidwives.org/preliminary_statistics.html



I would like to add on a personal note, that doula work and midwifery care, can fall into this category of negative birth language.

When we as doulas or midwives assume, teach, or simply say, that women cannot birth without this support, we are contributing.

Of course some circumstances require birth attendants to save a life, or a labor support person to love and work for the mother and her family.

This DOES NOT mean the doula needs to bring her own energy to the birth.
This does NOT mean that EVERY woman SHOULD hire a doula.

And it does NOT mean that women cannot birth alone.


When we as the "professionals" stop telling women they *need* someone else to control and manage, we give the power back to them.

This is our job. To give it back to them.