When I teach prenatal classes, I quickly realize, after meeting the expectant parents, that much of their understanding of birth comes from exposure to media. Television, Tik Tok and YouTube have provided inaccurate (in most cases) or sensational and biased (almost always) images and ideas about birth. The typical television birth is usually focused on the sudden gush of water, followed by massive contractions, and within a short time, an emergency delivery of a baby with either the birth giver or the baby at huge risk: C-sections, resuscitations and hemorrhages are the norm. These dramatizations, and exaggerated stories shared on social media are about selling birth—there is money to be made by clicks and views. A relaxed, no-fuss labour isn’t as click-worthy as one that is full of complications.
Birth stories are often shared with pregnant folks with an emphasis on the negative—painful, frightening experiences that are seemingly universal and inevitable. This frustrates me immensely as a birthing experience is affected by perspective, and perspective can be tainted in a vast number of ways.
Here is what we factually know: birth preparation that focuses on empowerment, knowledge, accurate information, coping techniques, and a solid understanding of the birth process makes an incredible difference in birth outcome and birth satisfaction, even when birth takes a surprise turn or needs some type of intervention. In addition, continuous labour support that is like-minded, caring, positive, and informed, while also respectful of the birthing person’s wishes, can both enhance and empower.
Without doubt, birth is physical. However, our brains are clever—what we believe and how we think becomes our way of projecting, reacting, perceiving, and responding to the physicality of birthing our babies. Our minds and bodies are not separate entities. They work together in harmony, sending messages back and forth through muscle, tissue, fascia, bones, and nerves. As those messages are received, our minds and bodies respond with either fear and resistance or understanding and acceptance. We can choose what we think and train ourselves on how to respond. We can have an empowered, fulfilling birth experience!
Changing our perception of birth, hearing positive birth stories, understanding the real process of birth and knowing how to manage the sensations associated with labour are the keys to a positive, informed, and empowered birth experience.
Trust in your ability to bring your baby into the world,