I would be rich if I could have a Rand for every time someone has said this to me about home birthing.
I don’t blame people for saying it and I am not upset at any of my friends who have said these words to me, it is how they honestly feel. With the way we have been conditioned to think about birth, I don’t really blame them, but it makes me sad.
Bravery according to my good friend Wikipedia means the ability to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation.
To say that I am brave to have a home birth implies that it is something you would need courage to face as it must be inherently dangerous/painful or horrible. We have been so conditioned into thinking that birth is something that needs to be medically managed and controlled that the thought of anything different gives the idea of risk.
This idea is concreted in our minds when we see TV shows about woman on their back screaming in pain and the medical staff being the ones to save the day. The mom looks like she is being tortured. We buy into this, birth looks scary and we expect it to be sore. The amazing thing about our minds is that the more you tell it something is true the more the subconscious start to believe this.
But what if this is not true, what if we are perpetuating a lie. But the more it happens, as we have been taught to expect, the more the idea of anything different becomes harder and harder for people to believe. After all either their own birth, or that of the mother, friend, granny, colleague is a testament to the fact that birth is painful and goes wrong a lot.
Given this belief it is easy to see why most women are not keen to take this perceived risk. They want to be in hospital where they can get help if all of the horrors happen, or even better yet they can totally avoid all this unpleasantness and have a planned day in theater with a Dr in control and the idea that less can go wrong.
If we look at the history of birth and the statistical facts about risk and safety we soon scratch away this layer of horror that surrounds birth and we see that the truth might actually be something very different. I had 2 home births and while they were wonderful they were painful and quite difficult. In a way being a midwife and a normal person exposed to media I was also convinced it was supposed to be sore. This time I am birthing not only at home which is statistically still very safe but I am trying to challenge the subconscious perception that it is supposed to be painful.
My births were amazing. I did them drug free and statistically for a low risk pregnancy the outcome for baby and mother is still better for normal birth with minimal intervention. Yet I am considered the brave one, when if you look at research I actually had the safest births.
I think it is sad that birthing normally has become equated with bravery. As I said I understand why and I don’t blame people for the way they feel. I just think it is sad.
My next post I think I will do on why birth does not have to be painful and traumatic. Maybe as the number of people that have calm comfortable births increase the idea that it has to be agony can be challenged.