Monday, September 3, 2012

Empowered Birth

Today on Labor Day women all over the USA are promoting Empowered Births. Before you go any further, if you have given birth, I request you just set aside any idea that anyone is judging how you gave birth, and also give up judging your birth yourself. The point of the birth is to have a baby, if you did that, you accomplished what you needed to do.
This blog is about what is missing in births in our modern day, and what is possible.

What's missing is empowerment, celebration, bonding and trust.

Today, women experience birth being done TO them. They are told by their doctor that they need to be induced for safety reasons that are mostly concocted so that insurance companies, hospitals and doctors make more money in a faster amount of time.
Women are induced, forced to birth the baby by synthetic chemicals, earlier than the baby is ready to be born. She is hooked up to wires, told she can't pace or rock or move ( which is a natural instinct in laboring) and, in most hospitals, cannot have a doula for support, cannot even have a bite of cracker for the several hours of labor and cannot dim the lights or play music. The birth is controlled by others and it is being done TO the mother. This is not empowering. It is frightening. Women's cervix's close up and then they are told they have to have a Cesearean.

What's missing is celebration. Women have been giving birth for hundreds of thousands of years naturally. We are alive today because our ancestors left birthing for women to do at home, naturally as they saw fit. Suddenly in the past 100 years, doctors who built hospitals needed a consistent method of income and saw birth as a way to easily fill those beds. They vilified midwives, advertised them as unclean, and doctors were trained to simply ask "Which hospital did you want to give birth at?" or just tell their patients which hospital they will go to. No choice, no acknowledgment of any other choice and the billions of natural births that happen in other ways for hundreds of thousands of years. Celebrating that women are powerful, are designed to give birth naturally and are capable of giving birth naturally, at home or birthing center is totally missing.

What is missing is bonding. In a hospital, the baby is picked up, handled by two people or more before it even gets to the mother. It is wrapped in blankets, so it barely touches the mothers skin and bright lights make the baby close it's eyes. Then before it can even nuzzle it's mother, it is whisked away to get it's foot pricked, heart monitor labels stuck to it and drops in its eyes that blur vision. It is screaming and scared. The mother, who has been induced and most likely, because the contractions are artificially forced to come on so strong, has begged for an epidural, is drugged. She is zoned out, in shock and it is not because she just had a baby. It is because the drugs have blocked her natural ability to produce the surge of adrenaline and endorphines for bonding that naturally occur when a mother gives birth naturally. I love all three of my children fiercely, but it is true that, when unhindered by drugs, you bond differently with your baby. That slow, sweet, present and immediate bonding is missing in modern day birth.

What's missing is trust. Women trusting themselves. Women trusting their bodies. In a hospital they put their hand into the birth canal several times during the labor to "check on things". Imagine the discomfort and exposure to germs? During a home birth it almost never happens. During a hospital birth, even if it was not induced, they find reasons to give you Potocin, to speed things up. I was told "if you do not diliate a centimeter and a half every hour, we will administer Potocin.That's our policy." When the Potocin is given, ,as it is in 80-90% of births now, the contractions come on stronger and the chances for a Cesarean skyrocket. This is surgery. This steals the woman's natural birth ability and greatly prolongs bonding. She is unable move and to carry her baby as she likes and begins caring for another human being in a state where she cannot even take care of herself. The constant monitoring, checking and pushing the woman along with drugs is all from fear and creates fear, slowing birth and making it more painful.There is no trust that the process will unfold naturally.

What's possible is empowered women having choices. Being curious and informed of their choices and choosing with trust in themselves. Trusting the body gives the mother a safe space. With a safe space the mother births faster and less painfully. She gives birth in candle light if she wishes, with her choice of music playing, being able to move as she desires and being a participant in her birth with her child. The birth is shorter and far less painful. She does what her body was made for and she experiences herself to be more powerful than she ever imagined. She is empowered and celebrated.

To learn more watch The Business of Being Born, one of the greatest movies ever made.

Zen Honeycutt

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