the Legacy of Birth - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 9 Old 04-07-2004, 12:14 AM - Thread Starter
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I was just thinking about having your children at your birth. Thinking about how I truly believe if we are to stop the trend of intervention and fear, we have a responsibility to our daughters and nieces and friends to teach them from an early age that birth is natural and normal, not something to fear, not a disease to be cured. But we need to do more...we need to teach our sons.

I have only sons. I have no daughters to teach. My husband was terrified when I was in labor, despite his attempt to hide it and despite all the information I threw his way during the pregnancy.

I think it is an inborn male reaction to a loved one in pain, fix it and if you can't fix it, fear it. Men do not have anything in their lives to equate to labor and birth. At no point do they have "pain with a purpose". And very little is done to teach boys about birth. So we have OB's that treat women like they are in need of fixing and that resort to fear and c-sections when they don't understand. If we can teach our sons and nephews and friends about natural birth, we can take a step toward freeing birth from the frightening course it is on. It takes education for everyone, not just women, b/c women aren't the only ones making decisions. Women SHOULD be the only ones making decisions, but as that is not the world we live in, it is a moot point. Maybe if we are able to teach boys more about natural birth at a young age, before they have preconceived notions, we will one day see a future where men are no longer part of the decision-making process surrounding pregnancy and birth. But I think we can't even begin to realize that ideal until boys are better educated.

I imagine teaching my sons about birth at age 3 and 4 and 5, when the world is wonderous and no one has told them the opposite of truth. And I remember the reality of trying to teach my dh about birth, when as a grown man he struggled to go against everything he had been told and struggled more b/c no one had bothered to tell him much at all. It isn't that grown men are incapable of changing, just that it is much harder and a lot less intrinsic if we wait until then. Think of the morals you were taught as a child, the ones you don't have to think about like not hurting others. Much easier to practice than ones you learned as an adult.

Just another step on my journey...
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#2 of 9 Old 04-07-2004, 07:15 PM
 
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I talk to my 7-year-old and 5-year-old boys about birth. They also hear me talking about it to my husband and friends and family. By the time they're grown they'll probably be sick of hearing me talk about, but they will know a few things, that's for sure!

I also talk to them frankly about menstruation. At this age they are totally matter-of-fact and nonchalant about it. They haven't yet been programmed to regard it as embarrassing and gross, so I figure this is my window of opportunity.
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#3 of 9 Old 04-07-2004, 09:48 PM
 
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One of the things my mother (a nurse) has always said that stuck out in my mind was "Pregnancy is a state of health". That had a big impact on how I viewed pregnancy and birth- to the point where I never even considered a c-section when all the OBs and midwives said I wouldn't birth vaginally ever. My mom's voice rang louder than theirs, so I think moms have a huge influence with this.

Now, I've had 3 c-sections and I struggle to teach my kids about how birth is a natural thing and how most of the time there is no need for intervention.

Good for you for thinking of how to teach it- I really think the mom has a huge influence in this, just in her own attitude toward pregnancy and birth. ( but surely dad's ways influence their sons as well).

:Patty :fireman Catholic, intactalactivist, co-sleeping, GDing, HSing, no-vax Mama to .........................:..........hale:
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#4 of 9 Old 04-07-2004, 10:53 PM
 
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That's a beautiful post, mattjule. I have only sons, as well, and have often had these same thoughts, though not quite so eloquent.

I smell a Mothering article. Expand on what your wrote here.

Serioulsy--I think it would be great!
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#5 of 9 Old 04-07-2004, 10:54 PM
 
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I'm now filled with an urge to invite my friends' children to my birth. One girl and two boys. I wonder how their epidural-lovin' moms would react to that? (it's a true wonder, not sarcastic, BTW)

:
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#6 of 9 Old 04-07-2004, 11:06 PM
 
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PS- I feel this way about BFing too, I am so happy that my children are growing up seeing me, some of my friends and relatives BF. I never saw someone BF (up close) until I did it myself.

It is true that most people will do what is expected of them, IMO. If your daughters(and sons) are taught that pregnancy, birth and BFing are normal, healthy and don't require tons of intervention- they will see it all normally.

I always offer to have pregnant friends get up-close and personal watching me BF- so they can see how a baby latches, etc. I think if more women saw a friend give birth naturally that would be a big help, same for kids. I have had friends say that watching me nurse taught them more than watching it on a video- and I imagine the same could be said for birthing naturally- if you actually are physically present to see someone birth naturally- you would feel like it would be "do-able".

:Patty :fireman Catholic, intactalactivist, co-sleeping, GDing, HSing, no-vax Mama to .........................:..........hale:
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#7 of 9 Old 04-07-2004, 11:42 PM
 
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hmmm. i hope this is taken in the spirit intended...

i believe that it is good for some things to remain mysteries. so many things are given to children at such a young age. they have to grow up so quickly, and deal with so many things that never were part of childhood before.

now, i agree that they shouldn't be taught that childbirth is scary, dangerous, bad, dirty, so on and so forth. but i also think we shouldn't rush to bring them into the birth rooms. of course, i understand that some families have toddlers at births and that it works out fine... but i've also seen toddlers seriously overwhelmed at births, and it felt almost cruel keeping them there.

it's like the messages we give our children about sex... i want there to be some anticipation, some excitement, but not to the level of "forbidden fruit." i want it to feel more like, "when you are ready to learn about this, you will."

my children knew i was birthing at home, and they were sleeping in the house when i did give birth, but i didn't choose to wake them or have them in the birthing room. but this time, i will have my 13 year old daughter around... if she chooses to be there. it's time for her to learn about this stuff, and i think she's equipped to handle the potential intensity and power of labor.

i just think that maybe we are asking a lot of our smaller children, to witness something that intense. some kids might be able to handle it, but i think a lot of kids aren't quite there yet and we might be doing a disservice expecting them to.

just my 2 cents.

katje
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#8 of 9 Old 04-08-2004, 10:50 AM
 
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I hoping my sisters will attend this babies' birth. They were invited to Rolands birth, but didn't come because they thought it would be icky, and they didn't want to hear screaming?!

My mom was there last time, and was amazed at how peaceful the birth was (she doesn't use those words, she says things like "Not a peep out of her until she was pushing!" :LOL )

My sisters seem like they're more open to coming this time. I think what they were really afraid of was seeing me in pain they couldn't do anything about. Now they know I can handle it, and it won't be some big stress thing.

As far as the icky mess part goes... maybe they won't be in the room when I'm pushing... whatever. I really hope they come & see me in labour, though. My mom only ever talked about pain, when she talked about childbirth.


My DS (2 1/2) will be in the room with me, as long as he wants to. My mom is going to be in charge of him, and will take him outside to play if he seems stressed out. I think witnessing the birth is going to be the least of his problems... the rough part is going to be adjusting to having a SIBLING!!

~Teresa, raising DS (Jan. 02) and DD1 (Jun. 04) and DD2 (Dec. 11) with DH.

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#9 of 9 Old 04-09-2004, 09:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Katje-

I understand what you are saying, but I was not implying having a small child there against their will. When my sister was born and I was 3 yo, my older sister (5 yo) and I played in another room for most of it. We would wander into the room my mother was laboring in and walk back out many times. I don't think I actually saw the birth. But I wasn't scared-I think mostly b/c no one around me ever implied there was something to be scared of. And I was an easily frightened child. I was more scared of the dark hall the bathroom was in than what was happening to my mom.

My point was merely that making birth a normal event instead of something children are forbidden from, we can take a lot of the fear factor out of it. Mostly, I was referring to talking about it. After all, birth is a momentous event, but it isn't very long in terms of a child's life. Teaching my sons that birth doesn't have to be the depiction they see around them in pop culture is important. Like it or not, our children are exposed to pop culture. And we can only shelter them so much. I would rather be a counterpoint to it, then be silent.

And it is really debatable whether or not we are exposing our young children to more than children of the past. I think of rural farming families long ago. I highly doubt their young children had the luxury of being whisked away for every birth. Birth, like death, was a lot closer to people then. And families had a lot more children so it was more of a commonplace event. Some things I will agree with you, yes, we do expect more of our young children. But in life lessons, no. Read pioneer diaries/accounts. Young children had a lot more responsibilities and were exposed to a lot more harsh things than our children today.

Regardless of whether or not it is right for your child and your family to have a very young child present, birth is something that needs to be talked about in families. There is so much support to talk to your children about sex and drugs. Where is the support to talk to them about birth and breastfeeding and pregnancy?
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