Sunday, May 4, 2008

Pregnancy Awareness Newsletter Link

Pregnancy Awareness Newsletter for May 4th: Eduation Week

I found this comment in the newsletter particularly insightful: "During my pregnancy with my daughter India (who is now 3) I read what seemed like hundred of books. Books on pregnancy, books on birthing, books on parenting and then some. I had no firsthand experience of being a mom and I wanted to go into motherhood equipped with as much information as possible. I feel it is important to educate oneself to feel empowered but I also feel it is important to weed out what does not feel right to you. Use your intuition to guide you and you will find your way."

There are lots of ways to learn about pregnancy and childbirth: talking to friends/family, reading books and magazines, going online, watching television shows etc. All of these methods are much less powerful than actually experiencing a bunch of births, in real life.
One of the best ways to learn about anything is by seeing it done. In the "olden days", birth was a part of life that happened where everything else did - at home, with our families. So from a young age, to adulthood, and then as grandmothers, women used to be a part of many births - not just their own but their mothers, sisters, aunts, daughters, friends, etc... Over time, more and more births moved into hospitals, and birth has become more and more separate from everyday life, simply because it is not something that we "do" regularly. Most women do not attend a birth (except on their own birth-day!) until they themselves are birthing a baby.

I think that the separation of birth from everyday life has made women more scared and anxious about it. The info-tainment baby tv shows don't help either. If most of what I knew about birth came from cable tv and a few acquaintences or friends who shared scary birth stories with me, I'm sure I would be thinking about birth from a very scary, anxiety-filled perspective. The tv shows compress something that might take 10-20 hours and shape it into a narrative that makes sense and is exciting enough to bring people through the commercial breaks. So much of realtime birth is boring, really - it's waiting for things to pick up, it's moving through real life until the flow of contractions strengthens and moves us into Laborland, it's resting in the tub or on the birthball, resting in-between pushing contractions etc. All this resting and waiting and moving on with life isn't terribly interesting, which is why a long labor can be condensed into such a short narrative which really doesn't tell the truth about the whole experience. And that's one of the big problems with these shows - that they seem like non-fiction - hey! this is something that really happened! - but really, they've been so distorted that they've become fiction, and are no longer a credible source of information.

The Listening to Mothers II survey summary states that "First-time mothers identifited books as their most important source of information about pregnancy and childbirth, and those who had given birth before relied most on their own prior experiences. Far more mothers were exposed to childbirth through TV shows than through childbirth education classes. As they neared the end of pregnancy, most women felt confident and a majority also felt fearful about their upcoming birth." Ack! is about as articulate as I can be about the more TV shows than childbirth classes sentence.

Later this week I'll post some of my favorite pregnancy and childbirth books, and discuss how childbirth classes can be helpful. I'll leave you with this fun link I found today: Virtual Labor Game

Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
Independent Childbirth Classes in Central Maine

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