Birth of a baby, a mother, a father, and a family is a big deal. The biggest deal. So few want to admit this to themselves or others because socially, what happens in your birth is expected to bear out in your life only to the extent that it applies to the health of your baby. Women want to talk about birth. We need to talk about it. But most of the talk we are able to do, in most social circles, is dumbed down and sugar-coated, hiding the glimmering shards of deep meaning, emotional upheaval, and spirituality. We find a certain comfort in, as Sue Monk Kidd said, “trivializing our experiences,” because it is “a very old and shrewd way of controlling ourselves.” When we belay deep feeling and say or believe that most things that happen to us are no big deal, it convinces us we are coping and keeps the people around us comfortable. There is no bigger deal than birth. There are only two things that match the enormity of the importance of birth. Death, and love. These three are all wrapped up together, but above all we must remember that birth is about love.
Having a baby is an act of love. It’s a culmination of your love for your partner, yourself, your baby, your family, the world. Are babies conceived and born without love? Of course. But to have a birth devoid of love is truly rare. Part of being human is being susceptible to love, however it comes.
Birth is about trust, and trust is a symptom of love. Trust is also a symptom of respect, and the ideal birth is a reflection of both. Women who give birth today can choose between giving our trust (control) to doctors and machines–because we don’t trust our bodies, our selves, mother nature, or God, or giving control (trusting) our bodies, ourselves, mother nature, and God–because we don’t trust our doctors. It sucks, it’s not safe, and it’s why we need birth education.
Because doctors have the technology and skills to help when there is a real problem, they think they must always control the power. They believe that you are safest if you give them full control. The most poignant thing I’ve read so far in preparing to teach is the importance of learning that control is an illusion. Birth and motherhood are much easier after that lesson is learned. I learned this very slowly over the last 4 years since my first birth. It was a hard lesson to learn, and, ironically, one that makes me almost giddy for my next birth. I wish I had learned it before my first; it likely would have saved me a lot of turmoil and a nasty case of postpartum OCD. Unfortunately, and in some ways fortunately, control-as-an-illusion is the last thing an obstetrician will ever learn. So the majority of our births are heavily controlled by doctors. I believe our mothers, sisters, friends, and neighbors would tell us about birth and how to do it if they felt they handled it themselves. But most of them just feel lucky to be alive and have no idea how they did it or don’t believe that they did do it.
Birth education shows people what they are capable of, gives them the knowledge they need to participate in their own decisions, and allows them to take back their birth. It shows them how to be involved, to allow birth to teach them and change them. To love their birth, however it happens.
Normal childbirth is a natural body process, but it is not supposed to be like blowing your nose. Birth changes you, no matter what kind of birth you have. Birth education helps ensure that it changes you for the better. It’s a guidebook and a steady hand for the quivering leap we all take when we bring a child into the world. Birth is the ultimate teachable moment. The enormity of the experience leads parents to redefine themselves, to redefine love.
Women love to talk about their births. They need to talk about their births. Let’s give them something to talk about. How about love?