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Faith in birth...

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I feel blessed to have faith in birth. I see it as such a positive, happy, wonderful thing, in lieu of the thoughts of pain and screaming and danger that seem to come to the mind of most people. Thinking about some friends currently pregnant and planning for their births, I wish so badly to be able to instill faith in birth, faith in their bodies, in them. But I can’t. It is something each woman must come to alone. It took the birth of my first and the thinking, reading and talking I did after it to reach the feeling of trust in birth I experienced with my second.

So how do first timers find their faith in birth? How do we overcome the constant barrage of “birth is dangerous” in the media, from our friends and family, from doctors and nurses? How is a woman pregnant for the first time to tune out the majority telling her that her body is a ticking time bomb of danger and that every birth must be managed with machines and an OB standing by with a scalpel or a pair of scissors?

Is it possible to have faith in birth without having done it first? Is the faith lost or not attained if bad outcomes are met in first birth? Any thoughts?
post #2 of 11
I believe it is possible for a woman to have faith in birth before she has birthed her own baby.

For me, it has come through surrounding myself with friends and colleagues who trust in a woman's ability to birth naturally and with minimal interventions, from reading a variety of literature, both scientific and sociological and anthropological, about the medicalization of birth in the U.S. culture and its questionable effects, from trusting in my heart that I can accomplish the same thing and birth our baby that millions of women before me have done.

It has not been a short journey -- at least the past six years of training and working in the birth field, and before that I studied community health as part of my undergraduate degree -- but I have also found a career field for myself.

warmly,
claudia
post #3 of 11
I think that part of the reason I had such faith in it the first time around was that I had no influences on me prior to getting pregnant. I never had a mom so I never heard any stories growing up. I was never exposed to any of that. And when I finally got pregnant, some of the first things I picked up were books like Spiritual Midwifery. So my first exposures to facts about birth were ones that talked about birth being normal.
post #4 of 11
I am currently overdue with my first, which I plan to homebirth here as soon as he/she is ready! I will second everything that Claudia said. I will also say that I never really understood why birth was a medical event. I also never understood why it was such a "traumatic" experiece. We are mammals, it's part of life...why the danger? If I had not have had a friend that homebirthed her 2nd child I probably would have planned my first for the hospital. I always fantasised about haveing a homebirth but it was just too "out there" until I got to know a real person whom I liked and trusted who did it. I feel very fortunate, as well as unusual, to have learned to have such faith in my body. I believe I had posted before that I decided that I would/could give birth to my first at home when I started using a charting method for birth control. I never realized that my body was such an amazing machine until then. No one told me anything more about my female system other than "you bleed every month for 5-7 days, keep a pad in your purse". I always thought it was this kind of random event that happened more or less every month. Once I saw the temperature rises and the change in my "environment" I was so impressed! This method worked for a year and 1/2 and then it worked once again to achieve pregnancy in 3 cycles.

From that point on I was sold on the idea that my body doesn't need anyone to control it, or intervene. It is a fine tuned machine...like a german sports car!!!
post #5 of 11
I am coming from the opposite point of view...in some ways, but very similar in other ways. Please read the whole thing before responding...I hope it will make more sense towards the end.

I believe birth is dangerous!!! I believe that in the US (i'm not sure about other countries/cultures), that we overlook our infant and maternal mortality rate and it is because society as a whole believe that doctors and hospitals are miracle workers, so therefore death no longer occurs. If we were to look at our mortaility rates especially in comparison to other "developed" countries....we SUCK!!!! We have the highest interventions, etc...., yet our moms and babies still die.

When I think of my pregnancy...once I made it past 12 wks....I was "home-free". I had NO complications...my pregnancy was perfect...I was perfect and my baby was going to be perfect. Because I live in the US and babies don't die here....especially when there is no known birth defects. Well guess what...my baby was perfect, except for the fact that she was born not breathing... I just wish once during my pregnancy someone talked to me and let me know that babies still die, for NO reason. I took a CB class and was taught the dangers of hospital interventions...that's why I decided on a homebirth, I was informed of a student dying during childbirth & her baby b/c of undiagnoised STD..., but I never thought it would happen to me.

I believe that we need to have faith in our bodies and need to learn how to trust our maternal instincts, rather than trusting those who tell us what we should think/feel/do. I am leaning more and more towards UC in my thought process, but also understand the need for Drs and hosp. in emergencies. True emergencies, not ones that Dr's create, so they can say, "look at me I saved another babies life." We need to empower ourselves and each other to trust and believe that we can and will deliver a baby...and when our gut says that the baby is not okay...to advocate for ourselves and our baby to get the help that we need.

Sorry...You caught me in a mood...so I apologize for my rambling, I am just very passionate that we gloss over death and dying in this country and do not adequately prepare ourselves for the possibility it could happen to us, especially considering our death rates.
post #6 of 11
Quote:
Originally posted by hmpc2
...<snip>...
I believe birth is dangerous!!! I believe that in the US (i'm not sure about other countries/cultures), that we overlook our infant and maternal mortality rate and it is because society as a whole believe that doctors and hospitals are miracle workers, so therefore death no longer occurs. If we were to look at our mortaility rates especially in comparison to other "developed" countries....we SUCK!!!! We have the highest interventions, etc...., yet our moms and babies still die.
...<snip>...
I believe that we need to have faith in our bodies and need to learn how to trust our maternal instincts, rather than trusting those who tell us what we should think/feel/do.
...<snip>...
We need to empower ourselves and each other to trust and believe that we can and will deliver a baby...and when our gut says that the baby is not okay...to advocate for ourselves and our baby to get the help that we need.
...<snip>...
I am just very passionate that we gloss over death and dying in this country and do not adequately prepare ourselves for the possibility it could happen to us, especially considering our death rates.
I agree with you that on the whole our culture views doctors and hospitals as miracle workers, and I believe that this thought has been perpetuated by a very strong lobby of physicians in this country and our technocratic view of the world. Our moms and babies still die here in the U.S., some for no apparent reasons, but I believe many others for reasons that can be attributed to the social climate we have developed, i.e. welfare to work programs, government health programs, a mythology surrounding medical care, a sensationalization of news, etc. I do think this doctors and hospitals mentality is shifting, however, as is evidenced by the rapid and widespread growth and use of complementary health pracititioners and a rise in feelings of personal responsibility for one's own health. I come to a different conclusion about the safety of birth, however...

And yes, we do need to trust in our maternal instincts and foster and reinforce that belief among our community. Our predominant "health" culture is actually a medical culture that promotes management and alleviation of symptoms, not investigation into a root cause and treatment of that cause through holistic approaches.

Advocating for ourselves is important, yes, and so is believing in the bigger picture and recognizing our own and each other's mortality.

As far as recognizing my own mortality and our baby's mortality, having worked as a hospice volunteer I am not afraid of the idea of death and dying but I also cannot predict how I will react to such events. I don't believe one can truly prepare for the death of a loved one. A person can understand that these typical things can happen and these are some of the typical feelings people will experience, but every person is different and experiences every other person in a different way, so a loss experience is never the same.

warmly,
claudia
post #7 of 11
my mother did not speak of her birthing experiences, and it didn't really occur to me to ask her about them. if she was pressed, she would say that she did her three births "naturally," yet i know my brother has a dent in his temple, nerve damage to his eye, and skin scarring from a forceps delivery. so i don't think she even really remembered what happened...

other than that vagueness, i was pretty much a tabla rasa regarding birth when i was pregnant. i was 25, finishing college, and the first amongst my friends to get pregnant. the very first birth book that i read was a copy of "spiritual midwifery," so that was the image i carried of birth from the get-go. i should call that friend who gave it to me and thank her again!

my MIL had unattended births with no prenatal care, and she had several babies with birth damage. i initially thought homebirth was irresponsible and dangerous, but then i met a couple who was planning a homebirth and they seemed quite responsible. they told me about midwives, which made all the difference! the local midwives even had physician backup, and we were fortunate that they could fit us in (they were in big demand). (by the way, now i know that even U/C can be an informed and intelligent choice... but i don't think that was the case with my MIL).

i've had two m/cs myself; as a doula, i've known a dear friend with a stillbirth, two clients with SIDS babies, and two moms who lost their husband/partner to death during their pregnancy. i have always seen that death and life are very close to birth, and i think ina may's book helped with that introduction, too.

another thing that i think might have helped me in the last decade is that we have decided not to allow television in our home, so we have missed all those horrible shows.

katje
post #8 of 11
I think it is our responsibility as parents and women to teach our daughters about birth. My mother always treated birth as a normal, natural event. She always included us in her births (1 hospital, 2 birth center, 2 hb-I was the first birth center birth). I never thought birth was anything but normal. When I saw it on TV, it was like everything else on TV-not real. We all know weddings don't happen in 5 minutes with perfect delivery. Or that the crazy antics of sit coms don't happen IRL, why would the crazy antics of sit com births be true to life? I have as much chance of finding a cursed Tiki god on a Hawaiian adventure as I do of having a birth like the ones on TV. When raised in a home where births are natural and normal, it is easy to have faith in the power of your body to give birth. Incidently, this was reinforced by my cursory studies in anthropology, especially physical anthro where you learn a lot about pelvis size and cranium size and brain size and how that all works from an evolutionary standpoint to produce smart mammals, but still have the ability to birth them unhindered.

I won't have any daughters. I am pregnant with my 2nd son and that is all the children I want. But I have nieces. And I have invited the eldest (she's 6, the other is 11 months) to my hb in June. It is my fervent hope that she remembers it well, that it imprints on her that there is another way to give birth that is amazing and powerful and doesn't involve giving birth without knowing it b/c you are so drugged (her mother, my sister, I will never understand). Birth is such an amazing, wonderful, life-altering event for a woman. I want every little girl to see that side of it.
post #9 of 11
This is a really wonderful thread and I have wondered the same thing myself many times.

For me, faith in birth started long, long, before I was ever physically or emotionally ready to have a baby. I think it is something that comes from a wide combination of sources, too.

When I got pregnant, I surrounded myself with people who also had faith in birth, faith in women's bodies, and who had a positive attitude. I believe our minds have a lot more power to control our physical beings than we give them credit for. I started early on, to develop a set of mantras that I strongly believed in and that I knew could carry me through childbirth. I also searched for practitioners who could help support me and I gave my husband snipets to read from my favorite books. Ina May Gaskins' book on giving birth naturally was a powerful influence on both of us.

I hope that more women will start to support each other to believe in what we are capable of.
post #10 of 11
I planned a midwife attended homebirth for my first child. So yes, I can say that it is possible for first-timers to have faith in thier bodies and in childbirth as a natural event.

How did I get to that point ?
Partly out of necessity - I don't have a family physician locally, and his closest OB referal (and ALL Ob's here require a referal) was still a 1/2 hour drive away. So I looked into midwives. And got in to the practice.

I grew up on a farm. I grew up seeing birth as a natural phenomenon. I can recall twice seeing a cow need assistance birthing, though I know it did happen more frequently. And cats - most had no issues, but we did lose a few mothers and litters and individual kittens in the process. I knew that death happens even when there is no apparent reason, but that in MOST cases, mom & baby are fine if they are left alone.

So - I went into my pregnancy knowing that as long as I listened to MY body, MY instincts and MY intuition that the chance of everything being okay were greater than the chances of anything untoward happening.

My husband and I talked with our midwives about homebirth starting at about 16 weeks. I wanted stats. Not overall stats, but stats for that practice. I researched. I read. I spent a pile of time on the internet looking for information about homebirth vs. hospital birth, the pros and cons of different interventions. Even spent money on a CB class that I got nothing out of (because of the reading and research I'd done).

I went into labour at 1 day past 38 weeks. My husband and I prepared our home for my labour and our child's birth. Then called the midwife only to find she was at the hospital with someone else, her back-up on the way and the 3rd on vacation !!

So, while I didn't get my homebirth, I did have a drug and intervention free birth, and was home with my child about 8 hours after his birth (and we stopped at my husband's workplace on our way home !!).

I think I just grew up with the view of birth as a normal process. I was never scared of it, even when I was told horror stories. But I had a healthy appreciation of the possibility of an outcome that wasn't *perfect* as well, so weighed my options.
post #11 of 11
Quote:
Is it possible to have faith in birth without having done it first? Is the faith lost or not attained if bad outcomes are met in first birth? Any thoughts?
I had to fight tooth and nail during my second pregnancy to relearn to have faith in myself, in my body's ability to give birth.

I believed during my first pregnancy that somehow the baby would just drop out of me at the right time. It never occurred to me that things might go wrong. I was so totally unprepared for the reality of an overly-managed hospital experience. I read all the right books and I knew I didn't want those interventions, but it happened. All those horrible things that you hear about happened to me! The interventions led to more interventions which led to my baby's heartrate dropping to ten beats per minute, which meant an immediate emergency surgical birth. I was, and am still to a degree, severely traumatized by that experience, and I lost all faith in my body ever doing anything right. Then my baby was unable to nurse, which just made those feelings of inadequacy that much worse...

fast forward to two years later... I'm pregnant and expecting my second baby. Terrified of a repeat of what happened before. I know my fears can possibly make those nightmares come true again.
I really had to work at believing I could give birth without the trauma that I experienced the first time. But I did it, I just had to.
It wasn't easy for me at all. I had to overcome my fears, my lack of trust in myself, and all the niggling doubts in the back of my head before I could have the birth I had envisioned. I had to plan for every worst-case scenario, just in case. I refused to talk to anyone who spoke negatively about childbirth. I read all the positive natural birth stories I could find. I called my midwife in the middle of the night, crying my eyes out, when the nightmares wouldn't let me sleep...
Anyway, my point is that I oringinally had faith in birth, lost it, then had to try very hard to regain that faith. But I did it!
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