S/O Ownership of Birth Language - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 83 Old 02-27-2009, 10:37 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I think about this topic a lot when I visit these boards or otherwise discuss pregnancy, birth and newborns with ppl....or when I use a Birth Term that someone quibbles with me about, as just happened to me here today....so, I guess I think about this topic a lot!

Who owns Birth Language? This is an important question to me because the Owners are usually also the creators or at least the Primary Creators of a language--the people who have key influence over words chosen, and over what words mean. "What words mean" is always "what words mean *in terms of the values and norms of the Primary Creators*" of a language. And I think the topic of language is immensely important to explore because what we say and what we mean are things that shape our reality in a fundamental way. What happens and how we feel about what happens; our relationships with ourselves and other people, with work and money, the planet and all other Life Forms; the way we live and choose is enormously impacted by Language, by words, phrases and the beliefs and images they conjure.

There is more I could say about this, but you know how I ramble....In any event, the topic of The Ownership of Birth Language is to me exceedingly important. I think our insistence on owning Birth Language is very much at the core of returning birth to women, and to normal.

Part of this is owning our own language and terms--and part is becoming a translator: so when ol Doc Obee says s/he'll 'let you go 41wks', you automatically hear 'I, Doc Obee, am only comfortable with 41wk pregnancies'. Then you know you will simply have to decide (at some point) what YOU are comfortable with, and what kind of care you are going to line up for yourself and baby.

Or if you invent a new term and someone says "There is no such thing in The Official Birth Lexicon!", you hear instead that that person is only familiar with one particular lexicon (one that doesn't yet include the term you invented), and you hear that s/he is perhaps irate because s/he doesn't really understand your new term (misunderstanding so often gives rise to frustration/irritability).

Anyway, hoping this is not too very obtuse--anyone with thoughts on this?

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#2 of 83 Old 02-27-2009, 05:15 PM
 
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Well, I don't know that I agree with the concept of "owners" of a language. It's difficult to point to individuals, or even sub-groups of individuals in a society who could be determined to have that "owernship." Language is such a fluid & dynamic entity. It evolves over time with many speakers contributing to that evolution.

As for your 41W analogy... well, I don't think that will ever change. I don't think ANY medical doctors will ever change their language to say that they think or they are "un/comfortable" with any particular course of action. The course of action they recommend IS the only viable course of action in their mind! "I think XYZ is best" is equivalent to "XYZ is best!" & they'll never phrase it in the former way.

In a way though, I don't blame them. If you make life-or-death decisions, you MUST think that your decisions are the correct ones. Otherwise you'll find yourself paralyzed with indecision and vascillate rather than act. I think what's important is for us as consumers of medical services to know that when a doc says "XYZ is best" that is their opinion - and we need to decide if we agree.
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#3 of 83 Old 02-27-2009, 05:16 PM
 
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I'm curious to see how this discussion will play out here a I am a L and D nurse and find it's very hard to come up with terms that people are universally comfortable with. I think, like you said, there are so many different 'lexicons' that there will always be a variety--and there will always be discussion about what the terms imply on an explicit and implicit level.

Honestly, I think it comes down to what people are comfortable on an individual level. Contraction vs surge? Whatever the mother wants to call it is fine with me.

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#4 of 83 Old 02-27-2009, 06:41 PM
 
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Great post! I love this topic but I will admit that it goes over my head regularly. I'm just not good with words at all. And that goes for both giving and receiving words, lol. I'm a very visual person. I've always excelled at art and math while english was always my worst subject.
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#5 of 83 Old 02-27-2009, 06:47 PM
 
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I'd love to see the original inspiration for this thread.

While there are terms in the lexicon that I can't stand, ther are also "created" terms that are equally as irritating.

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#6 of 83 Old 02-27-2009, 06:48 PM
 
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I'm having a hard time forming long thoughts. The short thought:

Birth is so elemental that there almost can be no solid language for it, because of the variety and depth of people's individual experiences, as mothers, birth professionals, fathers, and others... So the important thing is not just the language but how we communicate with others; what kind of effort goes into understanding the others' point of view. Stravinsky was talking about music when he said, “To listen is an effort, and just to hear is no merit. A duck hears also," but the point is still valid.

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#7 of 83 Old 02-27-2009, 07:33 PM
 
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While there are terms in the lexicon that I can't stand, ther are also "created" terms that are equally as irritating.
I really don't like the words "surges" or "waves" in place of contractions.
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#8 of 83 Old 02-27-2009, 07:39 PM
 
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I really don't like the words "surges" or "waves" in place of contractions.
Me too. They make me want to strangle whoever says it.

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#9 of 83 Old 02-27-2009, 07:43 PM
 
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I really don't like the words "surges" or "waves" in place of contractions.
Haha, you hit my nail on the head.

I don't think that re-creating the usual birth lexicon does any good.
Hospitals around here aren't going to play the "surge" game.

Why not just teach women that labor is varied, from painless to painful and we don't know what it will be for us with any of our labors until we're in that moment.

We should educate ourselves on how to deal with ALL the variables. Making the mention of pain verboten is a little absurd in my my opinion.

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#10 of 83 Old 02-27-2009, 11:26 PM
 
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We should educate ourselves on how to deal with ALL the variables. Making the mention of pain verboten is a little absurd in my my opinion.
That made me remember an exchange during my labor with dd. Her head never really engaged, but she was periodically trying to get down into my pelvis, which was : painful. I remember the L&D nurse trying to say it was pressure, not pain. In other words, not from a contraction. It was not a distinction I appreciated, in part because the "pressure" could be continuous for 6-7 minutes at a time.

But in my idea of really listening and not just hearing, all that would have had to happen was an acknowledgment that the one could be just as painful as the other.

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#11 of 83 Old 02-28-2009, 02:43 AM
 
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I don't think that re-creating the usual birth lexicon does any good. Hospitals around here aren't going to play the "surge" game.
Hospitals aren't the only entities to consider. Women who use that word do so because it feels helpful to them personally to reframe the concept of uterine movement in their minds, because "contraction" for them holds connotations of something negative, and even if they know that labor may be painful for them, they don't feel it useful to use language that they feel focuses on that. It's irrelevant, in that context, whether hospitals are going to "play that game".

I'm curious about the hostility that's come up on this thread, and that I've heard elsewhere, about the use of unofficial/uncommon terms to describe things. Why does it annoy/upset people so much when people see things differently enough that it's useful to them to use different language to reflect that?
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#12 of 83 Old 02-28-2009, 03:13 AM
 
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Originally Posted by fourlittlebirds View Post
I'm curious about the hostility that's come up on this thread, and that I've heard elsewhere, about the use of unofficial/uncommon terms to describe things. Why does it annoy/upset people so much when people see things differently enough that it's useful to them to use different language to reflect that?
:

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#13 of 83 Old 02-28-2009, 03:32 AM
 
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I'm curious about the hostility that's come up on this thread, and that I've heard elsewhere, about the use of unofficial/uncommon terms to describe things. Why does it annoy/upset people so much when people see things differently enough that it's useful to them to use different language to reflect that?
You didn't quote me but just want to throw a FWIW out there (since I posted on the topic), it does not annoy/upset me wen other people use those words. They just don't really fit the bill for me. The worst I can say regarding other people's use of those words is that I can't relate. But I can definitely understand that those words reflect accurately for others.
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#14 of 83 Old 02-28-2009, 03:56 AM
 
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I'm curious about the hostility that's come up on this thread, and that I've heard elsewhere, about the use of unofficial/uncommon terms to describe things. Why does it annoy/upset people so much when people see things differently enough that it's useful to them to use different language to reflect that?
It annoys me because I've seen too many who wind up feeling like a failure when their 'surges' weren't waves of pressure that enveloped their abdomen but PAINFUL contractions that were bringing forth their baby.

I can't stand any method that makes mention of anything verboten.
I have a fellow doula who is an instructor in a method where you may not mention pain. You may not show videos in your classes that mention pain. There are some great videos out there that can help women preparing for their labor that are totally OFF limits for her simply because they mention the word paid.

Rigidity like that doesn't do anyone any favors.

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#15 of 83 Old 02-28-2009, 09:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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thanks for jumping in, people! Let me start with a few word definitions of my own:

Ownership: now usually when we speak of owning something, we are talking about a dichotomy--*I* own this house and *you* don't, for instance. Or the AMA 'owns' the practice of medicine (and it's language), and we with no specific med training do not. But when I speak of ownership, I am speaking more about simply being present and responsive each moment, fully claiming and participating in whatever is going on. There is no dichotomy here; we can all own reality as we experience it, we own it together and separately both. If I own birth language, I'm not laying absolute/entire claim to it's creation and rules, only claiming the power and the right to use it as my own.

The discussion about 'surges', 'contrax', etc, is a good example of this. For some, claiming/owning 'surges' is more helpful than 'contractions'--for some its not. If I use 'surges', that does not mean you are forbidden to use 'contractions'--only that I own the language that I use, I acknowledge it's power to shape my reality, make conscious choices about it. I also acknowledge *your* ownership of your own language and the values and realities your language describes for you.

I like what claras_mom said (and hey, often 'short thoughts' say far more than 'long thoughts')

"Birth is so elemental that there almost can be no solid language for it, because of the variety and depth of people's individual experiences, as mothers, birth professionals, fathers, and others... So the important thing is not just the language but how we communicate with others; what kind of effort goes into understanding the others' point of view. Stravinsky was talking about music when he said, “To listen is an effort, and just to hear is no merit. A duck hears also," but the point is still valid. "

Yes, so very well said! Birth IS elemental, it exists outside the realm of the rational mind where words are formed. Words arise in the first place as mere tokens, symbols of reality, remember, and with something like birth the more fluid and flexible we are about it, the better we can describe and discuss it. We do need to carefully communicate about it--both in the ways we speak, and in being open listeners who give and ask for understanding without letting particular words get in the way.

So, when someone uses a word/phrase that is not in The Official Lexicon, that is not the time to quibble about the lexicon and the kind of ownership which poses that dichotomy of We Own It, You Don't. It's important to mention with this, that the dichotomy also sneakily poses a heirarchy of One Up, One Down. In this materialistic and greatly heirarchical society of ours, to "own" something grants a kind of power not held by the "non-owner". Now it may be a wonderful thing that the person who owns a house has the right to choose which non-owners and behaviors are welcome there and which are not. But when it comes to our language and reality in a more general sense, that kind of ownership is not healthy, not fair, not necessary--for instance, that kind of ownership (of birth care options and birth language) constitutes a great deal of what has made birth in American hospitals so awful for so many.

Also, it doesn't really matter whether or not the Drs and Hospitals are going to play it this way. When your doc says "baby is safest arriving by 41wks", you can translate that in your *own* head to "Dr not comfy with longer-cooking babies". I do NOT suggest that you say in response, to your doc: "Oh, yes, I hear that you are uncomfortable with longer-cooking babies". It would probably be pretty unhelpful, prompt a rant about med ideas on safety, etc. But you can translate for yourself, because you own your reality and language---and you can make decisions based on what you believe, regardless of what that Dr believes.

SO--your dr. says "we'll let you go to 41wks and no further", then you can accept that because you accept the Dr's status as The Boss and that is the way you prefer it. OR you can see that as a statement of what Dr is/isn't comfortable with (Dr's owned reality) without owning it yourself. If you are comfortable with letting your baby cook long, then you can choose another provider or setting for birth. I do not suggest that simply by utilizing alternate language from the dominant one, by owning your language use, that you will automatically change others' minds about anything. I do suggest that when we do remain present, and own language and meaning for ourselves, that more options become available to us--we become freer and more positively self-directed while also more readily respectful of the other's reality. I mean, you might be inclined to argue or persuade if you feel bound to this Dr--if you feel that you are NOT free to choose other care, for instance.

Well, I'll stop now...keep it coming people
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#16 of 83 Old 02-28-2009, 10:20 AM
 
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I think one part of the 'ownership' of language is also the function of claiming ownership of birth, for the medical professionals. By taking something simple and natural and tagging it with clinical or obscure names or phrases you are deliberately trying to separate the birth from the person/people who truly own it.

I have more to say, but will be back later.

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Originally Posted by erin_brycesmom View Post
I really don't like the words "surges" or "waves" in place of contractions.
I have to agree. With this last pregnancy I had no idea I was having contractions because I was waiting for a surge or a wave. I just thought the baby's movements were causing me pain because I had such low fluid.

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#18 of 83 Old 02-28-2009, 05:43 PM
 
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Also, it doesn't really matter whether or not the Drs and Hospitals are going to play it this way. When your doc says "baby is safest arriving by 41wks", you can translate that in your *own* head to "Dr not comfy with longer-cooking babies". I do NOT suggest that you say in response, to your doc: "Oh, yes, I hear that you are uncomfortable with longer-cooking babies". It would probably be pretty unhelpful, prompt a rant about med ideas on safety, etc. But you can translate for yourself, because you own your reality and language---and you can make decisions based on what you believe, regardless of what that Dr believes.
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.

I completely agree with what you say about longer cooking babies, you're reading/hearing the underlying message. Dr isn't comfortable. But that's a different issue than the "surges", etc type of language modification that some childbirth education methods use.

Women need to know that THEY are the consumer and that while they did hire "them" for knowledge and guidance and assistance it is the woman that will ultimately determine what she will allow "them" to do. Just because "they" are uncomfortable with a, b, c, doesn't mean that woman has to agree to the alternative.

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SO--your dr. says "we'll let you go to 41wks and no further", then you can accept that because you accept the Dr's status as The Boss and that is the way you prefer it. OR you can see that as a statement of what Dr is/isn't comfortable with (Dr's owned reality) without owning it yourself. If you are comfortable with letting your baby cook long, then you can choose another provider or setting for birth. I do not suggest that simply by utilizing alternate language from the dominant one, by owning your language use, that you will automatically change others' minds about anything. I do suggest that when we do remain present, and own language and meaning for ourselves, that more options become available to us--we become freer and more positively self-directed while also more readily respectful of the other's reality. I mean, you might be inclined to argue or persuade if you feel bound to this Dr--if you feel that you are NOT free to choose other care, for instance.

Well, I'll stop now...keep it coming people
All that you say here I feel is spot on. Women have choices, and often they are unaware or unable to exercise their right to accept or decline what is too often thrown at them in pregnancy and birth.

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.

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. Some will blame her and say that she didn't truly believe that she'd have a painless labor, some will say she didn't practice enough. I'll say that no one prepared her with real tools to help her cope with her labor. And of course it doesn't apply to every woman as there are women who do birth successfully within these methods, but if these methods produce just one woman like the above then I have an issue with them.

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#19 of 83 Old 02-28-2009, 05:49 PM
 
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Well, I don't know that I agree with the concept of "owners" of a language. It's difficult to point to individuals, or even sub-groups of individuals in a society who could be determined to have that "owernship." Language is such a fluid & dynamic entity. It evolves over time with many speakers contributing to that evolution.

As for your 41W analogy... well, I don't think that will ever change. I don't think ANY medical doctors will ever change their language to say that they think or they are "un/comfortable" with any particular course of action. The course of action they recommend IS the only viable course of action in their mind! "I think XYZ is best" is equivalent to "XYZ is best!" & they'll never phrase it in the former way.

In a way though, I don't blame them. If you make life-or-death decisions, you MUST think that your decisions are the correct ones. Otherwise you'll find yourself paralyzed with indecision and vascillate rather than act. I think what's important is for us as consumers of medical services to know that when a doc says "XYZ is best" that is their opinion - and we need to decide if we agree.
Actually my dr did use language like that. He was all the time saying "This is what I think is the safest action, but what is your opinion on it?" The day I found out that I had almost no fluid, he really wanted to send me right to the hospital so that they could monitor the baby. I wanted to go home and pack some clothes, see my dd1, and let my husband drive me to the hospital so we wouldn't have an extra car there. He said that it really made him uneasy for me to do that, but that was just his opinion and it most likely would be safe for me to go home for awhile.

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#20 of 83 Old 02-28-2009, 05:50 PM
 
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I think one part of the 'ownership' of language is also the function of claiming ownership of birth, for the medical professionals. By taking something simple and natural and tagging it with clinical or obscure names or phrases you are deliberately trying to separate the birth from the person/people who truly own it.

I have more to say, but will be back later.
I can see what you're saying.

On the other hand when a woman is truly informed of her choices, knowledgeable in the accepted language of birth, she carries an immense amount of power.

I can look to my own birth (homebirth transfer for Pre-e) to demonstrate that.

I knew there were some things that would be necessary, IV, induction with pitocin. I knew there were other things that would be negotiated. AROM, mag sulfate, number of exams, basically everything else.

I owned my birth. The DR and Nurses told me their opinion and I'd either consent or respectfully decline, informing them in their own language very clearly why I wasn't consenting to the proposed intervention at this time.

We're all aware that homebirth transports with no backup OB aren't always a walk in the park. But by being a consumer who was truly informed of her rights and with a deep understanding of birth, the lexicon and standards of practice, I was able to negotiate the birth that *I* wanted within the system.

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.

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#21 of 83 Old 03-01-2009, 11:39 PM
 
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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.

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#22 of 83 Old 03-02-2009, 06:37 PM
 
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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.
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#23 of 83 Old 03-02-2009, 06:47 PM
 
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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. :
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#24 of 83 Old 03-02-2009, 08:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.
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#25 of 83 Old 03-06-2009, 05:12 PM
 
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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.



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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.
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#26 of 83 Old 03-06-2009, 11:04 PM
 
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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.

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#27 of 83 Old 03-07-2009, 12:14 AM
 
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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.

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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.
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#28 of 83 Old 03-07-2009, 10:55 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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.
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#29 of 83 Old 03-07-2009, 07:40 PM
 
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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...

Katie : Mom to three under four. Yes, i don't sleep often.
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#30 of 83 Old 03-07-2009, 11:11 PM
 
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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?

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