I just saw the movie Four Christmases. It is a good example of the misinformation about birth and breastfeeding that is so prevelant in America.
I find it ironic that women are afraid of being in labor for hours and hours or even days, and yet on the other hand people get nervous when you are out in public near your due date. I personally experienced this when near or on my due date, store clerks or passers by at the mall seemed to get very nervous as if my baby might be born right then and there. The babies that you hear about who are born in the car or on the airplane are the exception and not the rule. But I digress...
The fear of pain in labor is perpetuated by the horrible labor scenes in so many movies and TV shows. There was no labor scene in Four Christmases, however, but a comment by the main character, Kate, to her sister. Kate asked, "Don't women want a natural birth?" Her sister replied, "Only with their first, after that they schedule their C-section." (These quotes may not be the exact line from the movie, but close enough to get the point across).
It seems that this trend of scheduling C-sections if becoming more and more common. The C-section rate in the US is almost 32%. The World Health Organization has stated that an acceptable rate is 10-15%. After the C-section rate climbs above 15% the mortality rate of Moms and Babies also starts to climb due to complications from unnecessary surgery.
The references to breastfeeding in this movie also portrayed it as trashy. There were two women in the movie who mentioned breastfeeding and I felt both were distasteful references.
There was one other reference to labor in the movie that mentioned a vacuum as if this were common protocol. The truth is that birth is by itself a normal and natural process. Any use of a vacuum or other device is interference in the a beautiful life event. I had three natural births all at hospitals, and I can tell you that they see very few natural births there. While the nurses who worked with us were great, it was obvious that they did not know much about normal birth without any intervention. During my last labor, my doctor had not arrived yet and the nurse just sat on my bed holding the fetal monitor and saying, "Don't push, it's not safe." What is not safe about birth?
I've been a nurse for 6 years, I know that bad things can and do happen, but most of the time birth is perfectly safe. The problem is we don't know what a normal birth is like. There is that fear, that a woman might have her baby right in the middle of the mall! What would you do? Hopefully, nothing. Women's bodies are very capable of having babies even without hospitals or doctors present, just look at the population of the earth. Babies and mothers are surviving even in third world countries. As a matter of fact the US has some of the worst startistics in the developed world for maternal and infant mortality.
Ok, back to the topic at hand. We fear birth because we don't know what it is really supposed to be like. We have a viewpoint of fear and pain that we have seen repeated in the movies and on TV. Part of my goal with this blog is to dispell myths about birth.
I like to think back and remember each of my labors and births. Each experience was as unique as my 3 children and just as wonderful. I can't say that labor was pain-less or easy, it was definitely hard workand at times very uncomfortable. But, I also don't think it was a horrible painful experience that I don't like to think about. I love telling others about my labors and births because I think of them as good experiences in my life. Birth is not supposed to be scary or very painful. I like to think of it as a rite of passage into motherhood. The feeling right after each baby was born was so amazing. I will never forget the overwhelming love, sense of accomplishment and pure joy that I felt the first time I held each baby. This is what I hope to share with those taking my classes and reading this blog, that birth is beautiful and your baby IS worth a natural birth.