>On one hand, I find it heartening to hear stories of birthing pleasure. On the other hand, I know that the labour pains I felt were real.
I don't doubt they were real. I had some pain in all of my births, although it was minimal. But the fact is, labor pains are not a given and there truly are women who experience pleasure. Many women experience pain AND pleasure. I posted those quotes and stories because I wanted to help dispell the myth that every woman experiences pain in every birth. I also believe that much of the pain is caused by fear. I have several articles on my site that deal with the fear/tension/pain syndrome.
>First, I think it dredges up the stereotype of so-called 'primitive people', especially women, being impervious to pain.
I don't think they're impervious to pain, but overall I believe tribal women had less painful births than most women do today. I'm not putting tribal cultures down when I say this, but psychologically they are/were in a less self-conscious state than we are. Consciousness evolves, and as it does, people become more aware of themselves as individuals. Their intellects also develop which is why we have computers and tribal people don't. But with self-consciousness comes fear, shame, and guilt. A woman in a tribal culture is not ashamed to walk around naked. She feels comfortable in her body in a way that most women in our culture don't. I believe this has a positive impact on her births.
>Goldsmith's reports of unassisted births amongst 'tribal' women are second-hand. Are 19th century Western travellers a reliable source of information on 'tribal' culture? These observers may have seen what they wanted to see, you know what I mean?
Personally they ring true to me. I have more sources I could have added to that page (Sheila Kitzinger, Michel Odent). Many anthropologists have written about the ease with which most tribal women gave birth. I've also spoken with a man who observed women giving birth in Korea 30 years ago. He said he saw several women give birth easily in the fields. Did some women in tribal cultures have problems? Yes, especially those who had more contact with Western cultures.
>Second, I'm uncomfortable with stories of women birthing one hour and returning to work the next....This women had fifteen children with very little support and no money so she had no choice but to do heavy housework and tend to the garden immediately before and after giving birth. Well, guess what? She lost four of those fifteen children! Birthing and working do not an ideal combination make.
Maybe birthing and being poor and overworked and having 15 children isn't an ideal combination. But this is an extreme case. A healthy, well-fed woman today can go back to doing what she wants to do as quickly as she wants to do it, provided she hasn't had a traumatic birth. I bounced back very quickly. But resuming my normal activities was my choice and it may not be for everyone.
>I think that this article does not make a compelling case for UC and I know that as an advocate you are in a position to pass on references to interested women.
I'm not trying to make a compelling case for UC. It's not something I feel I need to talk any woman into. It was a choice that felt right to me, and it makes sense to many people. As far as that little article, I posted it because I wanted to respond to that woman's comment that there is no historical presedence for giving birth alone. But as I've said before, I'm not advocating a return to tribal consciousness or tribal ways. As Michel Odent (French author and OB) says, we're not talking about taking a step backward. We're talking about taking a leap forward. Women can have better births by overcoming their fears and understanding how the mind affects the body.