In the News: Stories About Childbirth

We all know it:  the collective media including television, radio, newspapers (and, in my mind, the film industry, too) has enormous power.  Even if its various news companies have consolidated under a couple massive corporate umbrellas. So when I see articles or images about childbirth–newspaper blogs, print media or otherwise– I perk up right away, my interest tainted by an undercurrent of pessimism.  “How bad is it going to be, this time?”

Although I’d like to think that folks are becoming progressively savvy about the mass of information flooding their consciousness on a regular basis, I know there are still plenty of other people out there who accept “the news” as gospel truth.

Just think for a second on how childbirth tends to be represented in film and media.  What images come to mind?  Blue gown-draped women strapped into narrow hospital beds raised half way up to the ceiling so everyone in the room has a front row view of her intimate space…wide opened legs secured into stirrups…sweating, screaming and panicking as a ten-pounder comes barreling out the birth canal?  If we’re talking mainstream media and film, this is the type of image most typically portrayed.

Thankfully, there are more and more documentaries arising that demonstrate the softer side of birth–the emotionally empowering, life celebrating, ecstatic side of giving birth. Unfortunately, the mainstream media refuses to embrace this image of women during labor and delivery.

This morning, I came across a newspaper blog post in which the author, a mother of a three-year-old who is pregnant with her soon-to-arrive second child, comparatively discusses her emotions during her first baby’s birth, and the impending change in her family’s life as baby #2 arrives.  The title of her post: Childbirth Means Your Life’s Forever Changed.

A great title, really.

Suddenly optimistic, and hoping to read about how this woman might have been empowered during her first baby’s birth–how she scaled her own personal wall of difficulty, only to emerge on the other side stronger and more confident in her ability to handle the difficult challenges life will inevitably throw her way–how childbirth changed her for the better, having given her a glimpse into the true depths of her being… I read about a woman who approached her first birth encompassed by fear and hesitation.

In her own words, recalling her emotions prior to her first child’s birth, “The path is set and you have few options but to grin and bear it. Or in my case, hit the epidural early and hit it hard.”

Few options?  What a regretful mindset to be in.

When I read an article like this, my response is two-fold:  1) What a missed opportunity this person bypassed to learn the true depths of her strength as a woman, a mother, an individual.  2) How many women have read this same article and, once again, have had reiterated for them the unfair notion that childbirth is little more than a sentence to hours of optionless misery that you can do nothing other than “grin and bear it” through?

For women who are so frightened of birth, I wish them the time, courage and opportunity to watch films like this and this and this. And then, perhaps one or even a few of those women would be willing to go here for ongoing support in seeking/considering/planning for a gentle childbirth experience.



Filed under Childbirth Issues, family, From One Mother to Another, Mommy and Motherhood, natural childbirth, pregnancy, prenatal health

7 responses to “In the News: Stories About Childbirth

  1. Shelly

    This article from the UK just today…

    “Home births are three times riskier for babies than those which take place at hospital, new research suggested yesterday.
    Doctors warn that women could be putting their unborn children at risk by not given birth on traditional maternity wards with specialist care and equipment on hand.”

    Read more:

  2. Shelly

    Also this for consideration of all sides to the debate..

    “A newborn baby died from an infection just days after two midwives told the mother not to bother giving him antibiotics.”

  3. Shelly

    And finally this…

    Home birth increases risk of baby’s death

    Helen Thomson, biomedical news editor

    Although women who plan home births recover more rapidly from childbirth, there is an increased risk of child death, an international study suggests.

    The research, to be published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, studied over 500,000 births in North America and Europe, and found that the average mortality rate of babies born at home was almost triple the rate of those born at hospital.

  4. my husband and i are expecting our first in november and are dedicated to wanting a natural, calm (as possible) birth. we are beginning hypnobirthing classes and have joined up with a wise, dedicated, loving, pro-natural birth obgyn and are excited about this process. i feel like women have been brainwashed to believe that we can’t trust our own bodies, trust the way in which we were created … i am all for everyone making their own decision and do not judge either way- i just know this is right for us and we are excited about it!

  5. @baboosh carrier: congratulations on your baby’s upcoming birth…wishing you a beautiful, empowering, safe and joyous birth experience! Your confidence in the birth process, plus plenty of preparation and the choice of a skilled and knowledgeable birth attendant will make all the difference in the outcome of your baby’s birthday!

    As for Shelly’s comments, please see blog post 7/9/10 for further follow up.

  6. Pingback: The Debate Goes On: Homebirth vs. Hospital Birth « Writing My Way Through Motherhood and Beyond

  7. Pingback: Science & Sensibility » Summer Reading: Arms Wide Open ~ A Midwife’s Journey

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