Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Childbirth in Pop Culture {A Birth Circle Topic}

From stethoscopes to dopplers to continuous fetal monitoring, we've come a long way in childbirth but we're still hearing the same thing.  The media distorts childbirth, painting images of fear and chaos that are being forever imprinted on impressionable young girls.  I implore you, to more closely examine what you believe about birth and where you get your notions from; take a look at what you're daughters are learning about childbirth and where they are learning it.  Birth should not be something we fear, rather something we trust.  Yes, labor is hard work but it doesn't have to be excruciating.  Most low-risk labors would progress normally and without complications if women were left to natural progression, contrary to what some Hollywood films would have us to believe.

In sci-fi and horror films women are victimized into their pregnancy and throughout the birth.  In comedies panic ensues and women are unqualified.  The biggest fear expressed by expectant mothers is pain; it's no wonder why when that's what Hollywood wants us to see; the drama sells.  Twilight offers a horrific scene of a disfiguring, painful childbirth. Real childbirth seems to be Hollywood's last taboo, as Dr.'s hand over perfectly clean and swaddled babies from under the blue sheet to their mothers. In our pop culture births like this will be hard to come by. 

Historically Speaking

In the 1950's CBS would not allow the word pregnant to be said on the popular sitcom I Love Lucy today a model faces controversy while keeping her pregnancy secret for the first four months.  Whatever happened to having the freedom of choice?  The biggest assault of choices for pregnant women is with whom and where they'll birth.  Women are assaulted as to exactly how they should birth, much of this assault stemming from the media.  In America, when childbirth moved into the hospital, adds came out slandering midwives, depicting them as decrepit and for the poor.  Historically speaking we've gone through our fair share of childbirth fads- with hospital births came the option of "pain free" childbirth.  Moving birth out of the home created the mystery surrounding birth as each generation no longer saw birth as a normal part of life.  Twilight sleep induced an even bigger mystery as mothers had no memory from the experience and fathers weren't permitted.  All we knew now was what we heard- birth hurts, be pain free.  It got to the point where it was thought that wealthy women couldn't birth naturally because they were too pampered.  In the 40's and 50's Lamaze became popular after Marjorie Karmel smuggled in the "pornographic" video of natural childbirth.  This wave of natural childbirth, where mothers longed to be an active part of their birth experience, lasted into the 90's.  In the popular culture of today we most commonly see women asking or should I say screaming, for their epidurals.  Again we're seeing a repeat of "too posh to push" with scheduled c-section/tummy tuck combos flashed about by Hollywood. 

So take the time to re-think your views on birth and trust this beautiful part of your Journey of Life.  Birth can surprise you and not all birth plans go accordingly but that's ok.  Read and watch positive birth stories and videos.  Enjoy browsing through the folios of birth photographers.  Take a childbirth preparation course!  Watching Birth Day, One Born Every Minute or Call the Midwife does not count.  Find a Bradley Method, Lamaze, HypnoBabies or Hypnobirthing instructor near you.  Ask your care provider what they recommend.  Check with your doula; some offer childbirth education.  Another great resource is http://www.icea.org/.  Check out what your local hospital has to offer.  Read empowering books like Birthing From Within, by Pam England and Birth Reborn, by Michele Odent.  Don't believe everything you see on T.V.  Take the time to share with your daughter what birth really can be like; perhaps you can be part of bringing birth back into the home as the intimate experience it is.

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Jennifer Valencia | Labor & Postpartum Doula | 928.300.1337


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