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S/O Ownership of Birth Language - Page 2

post #21 of 83
Sometimes using those "alternative" phrases is an important step to changing the way you, the speaker, are thinking about them. The people who don't want to change they way they think about those concepts are probably going to struggle or just plain balk at their usage. Language is a living organism like culture and to refuse to change it or accept a change it is already making will only last as long as the lifetime of the refuser.
post #22 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by April422 View Post
It's really hard to pick a woman up and dust her off when her internal dialogue has changed from "I will feel little to nothing, I will feel pressure, I will embrace my surges as each one brings me closer to my baby . . . " to "OMG this HURTS it's not supposed to HURT, I'm not feeling pressure or surges I'm feeling PAIN and I don't know what to do, it's not supposed to be this way, what am I doing wrong." It goes on and on.

I can attest to the misery of being in this situation, because that is what BFing was like for me; precisely what my experience was, and it was hell.

The emotional distress exacerbated the physical pain to make the experience truly traumatic. I felt like a freak & a failure & had no idea WHY I was in so much pain.
LCs said, "BFing shouldn't hurt. Nipple pain is due to bad latch."
I asked them repeatedly to check my latch since DS was first born.
They all said, "Latch looks good!"
But my nipples cracked & I was agony.
LCs said, "Nipple pain is due to a bad latch. It shouldn't hurt. It shouldn't hurt."

Um, ok then, what the ???

The LCs, with the exception of one offered me NO HELP in reducing the nipple pain. They simply parroted the phrases "It shouldn't hurt. Nipple pain is due to a bad latch." OVER & OVER even after I told them how upsetting it was to hear that. Now I'm in pain & it's my fault that I'm in pain cuz I can't latch DS properly??? Greaaaat!

So, yeah, April, you are quite correct in your assessment.
post #23 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by April422 View Post
The truth is most women don't *want* to take that kind of ownership over their births. ...It's pretty rare to see a woman take control of her birth within the system. Most are all too happy to hand it over to their providers.
I blame this on our culture.
1. We're taught that birth is a medical event.
2. We're taught that, for all medical events, DOCTORS KNOW BEST and we should trust them. They are like Gods - above us & not to be questioned.

#1 + #2 equals the current mess that is American maternity care.

I think it's difficult to overthrow the shackles of our upbringing in order to strive to aviod medicalized birth & question the system. I've said it before - "overthrow the shackles" is a bit of a dramatic term, but I do think it's appropriate here.
Fortunately, for me, it was easy since I'm a bit of a rebel naturally. Mom raised me to think for myself & question things.

But I can imagine how difficult it is for most women who would naturally trust the docs. Particularly when everyne she knows tells her how glad they are that their OB "saved" them &their baby from certain death ... It's harrowing to wrap your mind around the fact that, so often, the doctor was dramatically rescuing the baby from his/her own iatrogenic dangers. :
post #24 of 83
Thread Starter 
Wow, great stuff here. Having been somewhat out of this loop for a day or 2, I can't possibly address all the individual insights being generated, but I'm thrilled with it all--thanks everyone.

Not much time right now, but I want to say that this topic is wide and has various elements or subtopics. I'm glad to see that these different elements have emerged into the conversation--they're all important to understanding language and power and our creation/co-creation of reality.
post #25 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by April422 View Post
But to many, using certain methods, it does matter. You can not mention pain. It's more the rigidity I have an issue with, than the actual words themselves. When a woman comes into a hospital and chooses to use certain methods and gives the hospital a birth plan that is asking them to change their entire lexicon for this *one* patient or her birth will fall to pieces, that's not a good thing.
Why not? How is that different from asking the staff to make an exception in her case to not give the routine IV, or "allow" her to push in a kneeling or other position, or walk the halls or use the tub after her water breaks, etc. Why should it be viewed with derision, just because it isn't an approach that all NCB methods happen to advocate? We all approach and experience birth differently. Just because this is a concession that doesn't matter to you doesn't mean it isn't just as helpful to other women as some of what you used and advocate. Who gets to decide what exceptions to rules for this *one* patient are reasonable and what aren't? It's really just about two words. Please say discomfort, not pain. Avoid the term contraction. I know many hospital staff members who are much happier to get requests like that than things that could get their wrists slapped or worse because they go against normal hospital procedures and run the risk of being difficult to defend if something goes wrong.



Quote:
Originally Posted by April422 View Post
But I see this as a totally different issue than that of the lexicon changes when it comes to contractions, pain, etc.

If it helps a woman to change the name of a contraction to a puppy, so she thinks of soft, fuzzy, loving energy that's totally up to her. But to create a alternate reality that the mention of a contraction or pain will take her out of her "current reality" and bring the true reality of what birth will be for her crashing down around her ears, well, I don't really see the benefit in that.
Why are you assuming that pain is the "true reality" for everyone? It's not about destroying her "alternate reality", it's about removing her from her own true reality and placing her in someone else's. Women in birth are very suggestible, which can work for them or against them. I have seen women who were very calm, comfortable and happy as they progressed beautifully through their birth, only to be totally thrown for a loop by someone's suggesting that they won't have their baby UNTIL they feel pain. How was that negative suggestion of benefit to her? She was living her "true reality" beautifully, and then was told, "I'm glad you're feeling good now, because you're going to have to keep your strength up to make it through the pain that will bring you your baby." One woman I remember took several minutes to regain her confidence and comfort, and was really upset by the comment. She did birth her baby in complete comfort, but she really developed a dislike for her midwife after that. How difficult is it for those around her to support her in the way that is best for her, instead of trying to railroad her into their own expectations of birth? How is this different than a caregiver who insists that all women birth on their backs with their feet in stirrups, because it's easiest for the caregiver? Why shouldn't those of us who are truly focused on helping women have the best birth they possibly can be supportive of those who are helped by positive language, or even specific words? I'm just not sure why so many people fight against something that is so helpful to many women.

Personally, I can't stand the word "contraction" because it has such a technical, almost violent feel to it, and I never experienced anything like that during any of my births. But if someone else finds it helpful, I'm not going to tell her that she has to use my terminology.
post #26 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by April422 View Post
The truth is most women don't *want* to take that kind of ownership over their births. Those that do are usually birthing at home assisted and un-assisted. It's pretty rare to see a woman take control of her birth within the system. Most are all too happy to hand it over to their providers and then sue when the outcome isn't what they wanted, even though they consented to everything all along.
Women are scared. I'm passing all the responsibility off to my OB this time, because I don't have the guts to go through another full-term loss (and all the crap that goes with losing a baby when you're outside the system). If I should lose this one as well...please, please no...at least this time I have the consolation of knowing that I'm not going to catch flak from people who think I "deserve" it. I thought I had what it took to take responsibility for my birth, but I don't.

Honestly - I hate the lawsuit happy mentality. However, if a doctor is advising a woman of a course (or courses) of action, and she goes along with it, then finds out later that the doctor lied and/or left out information she needed, why shouldn't she sue? A patient, or a woman in labour, is entitled to informed consent...and if they're not being informed, they're being deprived of their rights.
post #27 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sudonk View Post
Why not? How is that different from asking the staff to make an exception in her case to not give the routine IV, or "allow" her to push in a kneeling or other position
I'm having trouble articulating this concept this evening. Have you ever heard the phrase, "Your right to swing your fist stops at my face?" YOU have the right to do what you want, unless it will hurt ME. Likewise, *I* as a birthing woman have a right to have control over my body... to decline an IV, to push in whatever position I want. These are things that pertain to MY body and I have a right to ask a hospital to agree to these conditions of my birth.

However, the words that come out of the nurses mouth's? I don't feel I have much of a right to ask to control that. THEY have the right to communicate verbally with the terms they typically use to communicate verbally.

I'm not saying I don't think a woman should ask this. Just saying, the analogy is flawed - it is nothing like asking for no IV. And I will say I think it's acceptable to ask nurses to not offer pain meds - don't bring it up unless the patient asks. I had that in my birth plan.

Quote:
Why shouldn't those of us who are truly focused on helping women have the best birth they possibly can be supportive of those who are helped by positive language, or even specific words? I'm just not sure why so many people fight against something that is so helpful to many women.
I know you weren't asking me, but I think the point was that the refusal to use the word "pain" just makes labor even worse for a woman if she does end up feeling some pain. As I wrote with regards to breastfeeding, feeling like you are a failure & a freak because you're feeling pain when you're told you should not be just makes the experience that much miserable.

That is not to say that womenshould expect pain - but there is quite a world of difference between telling women, "You will be in pain in order to birth your baby." (I agree, that's awful!) and telling women they must refuse to acknowledge even the possibilty that birth may involve pain. I dont' see how either extreme is helpful.

As for me, "contraction" is a physiological term - nothing more. As a certified personal trainer & fitness instructor, I had to learn about the various types of skeletal musclar contractions (isometric, isotonic, etc.) So it has no negative associations for me.
post #28 of 83
Thread Starter 
I feel much the same about the word 'contractions'--it's just a neutral factual term to me, naming what the uterus does during labor: it's a muscle, it does it's work by contracting and relaxing. Not saying this is more right or wrong usage--just what I'm comfortable with. Earlier, I mentioned 'translating' a care provider's words as needed--and to me, this would be one place to translate if that would be helpful to you. I would not ask hospital staff to change their word for my birth, but I would translate as needed inside my own head.

And this to me really gets at this idea of 'ownership'--a very personal thing, and something that should not/need not rely upon the words that others may use. I can own and use my own chosen words and meanings, geared to my beliefs and practices, without insisting that anyone else use my words or embrace my meanings. I can maintain my own path and beliefs whether or not people around me are using the words I use to describe my process.

And I think I would gently caution any mama who wants to put particular words in her birth plan; sure, maybe she has a 'right' to ask for hospital staff (or her hb mw) to use 'surges' instead of 'contrax'...but 2 things occur to me: first, it's just very hard to effect a change in someone's vocabulary over the course of 1 labor--I think for most ppl it would be an unrealistic and not entirely fair expectation (hosp staff are ppl with rights, too). More imporantly, even though I acknowledge and honor the fact that pregnant and laboring women are so suggestible (many of us), and even though I always try to gear my words to clients with that in mind, it strikes me that a woman who feels she might not be able to hold onto her path and beliefs in labor if anyone uses the wrong word, is a woman who is not all that convinced about her path and beliefs--and she would better spend her energy, IMO, in strengthening her beliefs and practicing boundaries and translation skills.

The point is really claiming power and knowledge for one's own, for use with one's own pregnancy and birth, rather than being automatically moved or influenced by the power and knowledge as wielded by anyone else. Well, that is the point for individuals--there is also a larger point involved, which is taking back pregnancy and birth more generally from the medical model with it's authoritarian, technocratic, mechanistic approach that has been so very hard on women, babies and birth on so many levels. We start by reclaiming power and knowledge for ourselves individually, in important part through our word-choices. And hopefully there is a more general result in time of making changes in the attitude and approach of care providers as well, a more general change in the maternity care system.
post #29 of 83
The examples put forth on how it is unfair or not "right" for a birthing mother to ask that the hospital staff honor her wishes including using or not using certain words, is exactly why I know a hospital birth will never be for me.

I've used the implied program using certain words, and it was the most wonderful and healing experience I have ever had.

I personally don't have a problem with the word "contraction" or even "pain", so I don't fall apart if I hear either word. However, it did help to relearn that childbirth does not have to be the most painful experience a woman will ever go through in her life; unlike what our society and the media love to teach us.

I wonder if the bigger, deeper lesson in the programs that replace words of the birth process are more about a woman taking more control back...
post #30 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by YouKnowMe View Post
The examples put forth on how it is unfair or not "right" for a birthing mother to ask that the hospital staff honor her wishes including using or not using certain words, is exactly why I know a hospital birth will never be for me.

I've used the implied program using certain words, and it was the most wonderful and healing experience I have ever had.

I personally don't have a problem with the word "contraction" or even "pain", so I don't fall apart if I hear either word. However, it did help to relearn that childbirth does not have to be the most painful experience a woman will ever go through in her life; unlike what our society and the media love to teach us.

I wonder if the bigger, deeper lesson in the programs that replace words of the birth process are more about a woman taking more control back...
But women can achieve that type of birth without re-writing the entire birth lexicon. I guess that's my problem with those methods that do so. And MsBlack is spot on with her last two paragraphs above.

I had a child many years after I became a doula. I'd had two previously and had inductions, pain meds, epidurals etc. Then I became a doula/cbe for a number of years and had another child. While the induction was still ultimately needed, the meds weren't.

All that aside I don't teach woman that there will or won't be pain in their births or that they should have orgasms, etc. Each woman will experience her own unique labor. For some women that will be what they term completely painless, for others it will be pain that is completely bearable, and for others they will find it completely unbearable. There are a number of factors that will determine what she feels, fear, belief, culture and baby's position.

In almost a decade of practice I've not had many women who feel they failed like the ones who were using those "lexicon changing methods". What they were expecting was so far from their birth reality there was a lot of self blame, didn't do it right, didn't practice enough, didn't believe deeply enough.

There was no open mind to those births. It was going to happen one way and that way only and when it didn't it was truly shattering. There wasn't an ability to say "ok, this isn't working, let's try something else that will still lead us to the unmedicated vaginal birth we profess to want." The pain they felt was completely derailing to their goals. There was no way to reframe it for them.

And to be fair I know that not all births within these methods are that way.

My fundamental belief is that we should approach labor as an awesome act that our bodies were designed to complete. Sometime we need intervention, but we shouldn't assume that we'll need it from the start. Education about the process and ways to cope without medications (for those whose goal that is) and how to handle any curve balls that labor may throw our way and actively navigating labor in a way that is always bringing us a step closer to our ultimate goal (however the woman defines that) is simply the best approach. No rewriting of the lexicon needed. While words (like people) have power, they only have power over us if we let them. Why get hung up on the language?
post #31 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sudonk View Post
Why not? How is that different from asking the staff to make an exception in her case to not give the routine IV, or "allow" her to push in a kneeling or other position, or walk the halls or use the tub after her water breaks, etc. Why should it be viewed with derision, just because it isn't an approach that all NCB methods happen to advocate?
Sudonk, I didn't want you to think I was ignoring you, but Meg said everything I would have said and more in a detailed reply to you.

Just sign my name to her reply.

Although I will edit to add:
It's a crying shame that one of the instructors of those methods I know can't use some really wonderful birth videos that we have because they use the word pain. Videos that truly inform women of what this wretched OB system is all about and how to navigate it, how to make informed choices, how to be their own advocate, all prohibited because they use the word pain in the video. When a method is that restrictive it doesn't do anyone any good. And frankly the videos that they can show and do show as part of their curriculum aren't all that impressive.
post #32 of 83
April - A lot of what you're saying makes good sense to me. I never used any of the methods. I went to hospital based prenatal classes with ds1 (waste of time) and the only mention of pain was something like, "I know - I'm supposed to tell you how incredibly painful giving birth will be, but I can't do that. It wasn't like that for me." End of story.

I never expected labour/birth to be really, really awful. I was prepared for the possibility that it might be, but I honestly didn't expect it to be. And, you know what? It wasn't. My labour with ds1 was perfectly manageable, as long as I kept moving (and nobody taught me that, but I laboured alone all night at home, and it was what felt right). The little bit of labour I had with ds2 - didn't have any with dd - wasn't bad, either. Labour with Aaron was painful. I don't know if that had anything to do with the triple-scarring of my uterus, or with the days of false/early/prodromal/take-your-pick labour I had before my real labour started, or if it was something else entirely. I just know it hurt much worse than either of my others...and I wasn't expecting it at all. I was expecting about what I'd had the two prior times.

I have more than enough trouble struggling with feelings of failure for the c-sections, for the infertility, for the miscarriages, and most of all for the loss of my son. I'd have a real problem if someone who was supposed to help me had set me up to feel even worse because I should/could have wished the pain away.

I don't care what terminology other people want to use for their labours and births. I just don't want anyone else's choice of words put on me. That's all. If someone wants to talk about surges, waves, cesarean birth, etc., they're more than welcome to - but I don't want to be treated as though I'm "unevolved" because I'm perfectly okay with contractions (no negative connotation for me, btw - very neutral word) and actively prefer cesarean section.
post #33 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by MsBlack View Post
it strikes me that a woman who feels she might not be able to hold onto her path and beliefs in labor if anyone uses the wrong word, is a woman who is not all that convinced about her path and beliefs--and she would better spend her energy, IMO, in strengthening her beliefs and practicing boundaries and translation skills.
That's it! :

Thank you, MsBlack! For months now, years maybe, there has been something that's bothered me about this "surges" and "waves" business and I could never quite get a handle on what my problem was. You've said it so well.
post #34 of 83
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by YouKnowMe View Post
The examples put forth on how it is unfair or not "right" for a birthing mother to ask that the hospital staff honor her wishes including using or not using certain words, is exactly why I know a hospital birth will never be for me.

I've used the implied program using certain words, and it was the most wonderful and healing experience I have ever had.

I personally don't have a problem with the word "contraction" or even "pain", so I don't fall apart if I hear either word. However, it did help to relearn that childbirth does not have to be the most painful experience a woman will ever go through in her life; unlike what our society and the media love to teach us.

I wonder if the bigger, deeper lesson in the programs that replace words of the birth process are more about a woman taking more control back...
Well, ITA, youknowme--hospital birth is not for me (well, except the one time I needed med care of my 6 births) and the issues of language and power are very much a part of my homebirth choice. And by the time I had to use the hospital (my last), I was strong/solid enough not to let anyone else have any power over me there.

And yes! Those who can learn/relearn that childbirth isn't *necessarily* going to be painful--and that even if it turns out to be so, there are natural ways to cope.

Yes again-- for me, this IS all about women taking control back--in their births and in their lives more generally.
post #35 of 83
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by April422 View Post
But women can achieve that type of birth without re-writing the entire birth lexicon. I guess that's my problem with those methods that do so. And MsBlack is spot on with her last two paragraphs above.

In almost a decade of practice I've not had many women who feel they failed like the ones who were using those "lexicon changing methods". What they were expecting was so far from their birth reality there was a lot of self blame, didn't do it right, didn't practice enough, didn't believe deeply enough.
...

My fundamental belief is that we should approach labor as an awesome act that our bodies were designed to complete.... Education about the process... and how to handle any curve balls that labor may throw our way and actively navigating labor in a way that is always bringing us a step closer to our ultimate goal (however the woman defines that) is simply the best approach.

No rewriting of the lexicon needed. While words (like people) have power, they only have power over us if we let them. Why get hung up on the language?
Well, I agree and disagree

The thing is, women are learning about pregnancy and birth from the very beginnings of their lives....from their own (and their birth-mother's) experience of being born in the first place, from TV/media, from overheard conversations at the supermarket, the stories of celebs, relatives and friends giving birth, etc etc etc. And this learning during a woman's youngest/formative years is both very deeply implanted in her psyche and very much shaped by the words people used around her. Also by tones of voice, facial expressions, etc--but the words are a huge part of our learning about birth as we grow up. And while words have no inherent power, they attain power in the psyche under certain conditions--when they are used habitually around us, when they are spoken with any kind of certainty/fervency....

And I DO think it's important to rewrite our personal lexicon, to reflect self-chosen imagery, feelings, approach to birth--I just don't know as we have to insist that everyone else change THEIR lexicon for us, when we are birthing. It isn't enough to change one's lexicon, of course--but it's an important step. And in changing word choices for oneself, it's also important *not* to move from one rigid set of words to another rigid set....as you point out, there are rarely disappointments in birth as great as the disappointment trying to believe that it WILL be painless, and then experiencing pain anyway. In such cases, I think, we see women who have moved OUT of the rigid set of words/meanings that imagines birth to be dangerous and necessarily painful, only to move INTO a different but equally rigid set of words/meanings....and the problem is not the words, but the rigidity involved.

Maybe this just points up the importance of flexibility and surrender when it comes to childbirth. A woman needs to take control in various ways--make good nutrition choices, for instance, and consider caregivers and birth prep wisely; she also needs to be able to allow that awesome thing called birth to happen to her, to be open to the experience. And we can take control in a positive way in part by choosing our words--which ultimately must invoke or inspire actions to match the meanings of words, if our words would have the power we hope for. And even our surrender and allowing of birth can be directed/guided by language--partly through our own language choices and partly through understanding the language of med. care and being able to both translate as needed, and see options beyond what med. language implies.

I feel I am doing a very sloppy of it this morning....so I'll just shut up now!

thanks for being here, everyone, I appreciate you all
post #36 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by MsBlack View Post
Well, I agree and disagree


And I DO think it's important to rewrite our personal lexicon, to reflect self-chosen imagery, feelings, approach to birth--I just don't know as we have to insist that everyone else change THEIR lexicon for us, when we are birthing. It isn't enough to change one's lexicon, of course--but it's an important step. And in changing word choices for oneself, it's also important *not* to move from one rigid set of words to another rigid set....as you point out, there are rarely disappointments in birth as great as the disappointment trying to believe that it WILL be painless, and then experiencing pain anyway. In such cases, I think, we see women who have moved OUT of the rigid set of words/meanings that imagines birth to be dangerous and necessarily painful, only to move INTO a different but equally rigid set of words/meanings....and the problem is not the words, but the rigidity involved.
This resonates with my experience. Particularly in this way: the language that I was using to frame my experience of second stage labor set me up to try to control reality rather than surrender to it. What happened when I tried to "push my baby out" was that I began working against my body, straining harder and longer when my body was asking me to just let my baby float in and out for awhile. But because I was thinking "this is the pushing stage" I couldn't truly hear my body's signals. As a result, I tore.

As I think about future pregnancies, I'm re-writing my second stage lexicon--imagining "embracing or hugging my baby out of my body". I'm sure that some people would find this extremely corny--which is fine: they don't have to use that language. But for me, whether or not it changes the outcome of labor (no tearing), the change in language brings me a sense of calm in this moment. The language I'm using actually makes me look forward to another shot at second stage labor--I can imagine how great it will feel to truly dance with that particular birth energy.
post #37 of 83
A wonderful article by Sheila Kitzinger, about obstetric language, here.
post #38 of 83
Breathing the baby down.

That's another one that bugs me. But it bugs me because of a client who was so angry that she actually had to PUSH instead of just letting her body expel her baby for her while she just passivly sat and tried to breathe it out.
post #39 of 83
What an interesting thread!

I would call my contractions surges. I would also use terms like pressure and intense.

I don't see why there is an assumption that using such terms indicates a lack of pain.

I definitely felt pain lol. It was more tolerable than I was expecting (excepting atypical ligament pain). But I definitely felt it.
post #40 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by April422 View Post
Breathing the baby down.

That's another one that bugs me. But it bugs me because of a client who was so angry that she actually had to PUSH instead of just letting her body expel her baby for her while she just passivly sat and tried to breathe it out.
And yet, my experience was I needed to do less "pushing the baby out" and more "breathing the baby down"...having been only exposed to the former way of thinking and not the latter was not helpful to me. I think the key is that by utilizing and accepting a wide variety of birth semantics women have more options in how they conceptualize and ultimately experience birth.
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