I wrote this article for the Pampers Pregnancy website and it was rejected by the copy editors because the subject matter didn't fit the topic they had in mind. I enjoyed writing this, so I've decided to publish it here with minimal changes.
|Kasie catching her son unassisted. A birth goddess in action.|
I think pregnant and birthing women are often overshadowed, and it's important to redefine the center of birth. I feel the woman should be the focus of pregnancy and birth.
I've personally noticed lots of things that shift focus away from the expectant woman. I felt I spent more time in the waiting room than with the doctor. The nurse took my weight and blood pressure, moving from one thing to the next. My doctor spent a few minutes with me, mostly looking at my chart. One doctor spent five minutes with me on an average visit, while another spent ten to 15 minutes with me. The visits felt rushed and I wasn't comfortable asking all the questions on my mind. Sometimes I forgot my questions in the rush.
I didn't know any differently until I planned a home birth with a midwife and noticed a change in the quality of care. As the expectant mother I felt honored and respected. She spent an hour with me at each visit. She checked my weight, blood pressure, urinalysis, and everything else. She asked about my feelings throughout pregnancy and answered all my questions. It was easier to remember my questions when there was time to think and talk. I felt my emotional well-being was cared for as well as the physical.
I've also felt as the laboring that I wasn't the focus of birth. In the hospital there were monitors, and everyone watched the monitor screen rather than looking at me. I did the work of giving birth, but the staff had other patients to attend to. When the baby was born the focus in the room shifted to the newborn, with the weighing and checking and everything else.
My home birth was different because there were no distractions. It was just me, my husband, and two midwives. It was wonderfully intimate and supportive. As the birthing mother, I was the focus throughout labor and birth. After the birth my family was with me constantly, and the newborn check-ups were done with the baby next to me. The focus wasn't on me or him alone, but on us both. It was a striking contrast to my other experiences, and I felt that every woman should experience that sense of respect and honor.
I think it's possible to achieve this positive focus on the birthing woman, even in the hospital. It takes a conscious effort to turn one's attention to the person rather than the distractions all around. Watch her, attend to her every need, and shower her with love every step of the way. There's a quote by Ina May Gaskin I really like: "If a woman doesn't look like a goddess in birth, someone isn't treating her right." I don't know if I ever looked like a goddess, but I felt like one when I was the center of focus.