If you see a whole thing - it seems that it's always beautiful. Planets, lives... But up close a world's all dirt and rocks. And day to day, life's a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern. - Ursula K. LeGuin

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Childbirth Education

We are discussing birth this week in my undergraduate class.  I show movies every once in a while to introduce a topic and today we watched The Business of Being Born.  I've shown this movie in several classes over the years, and although I can get bored with certain parts, watching the births never gets old.

My favorite part is listening to my class when the first birth occurs.  If you haven't seen the movie, it is a beautiful birth.  A woman is in a birthing pool in her living room.  Her midwife is by her side and her toddler is roaming around the room.  She is having an intense contraction but she is calm.  The room is quiet except for her slight moan and the voice of her son.  Then a baby appears.  It is so gentle and contrary to every image we have of birth that it takes you completely by surprise.

Every time I show this, the entire class let's out an "ohhh" of delight.

I have my students write down questions or topics they want to discuss from the movie for the next class.  As I was reviewing them this evening, I was struck by how many talked about the need for childbirth education. They wanted to know when and how women can learn about their options. The sad news is that most women learn childbirth when they are all ready well into their pregnancy and have already made some critical decisions (such as the doctor/midwife/practice).  I also feel, having sat through several childbirth classes for my doula training, that the options are not well presented in most cases.

While not everyone will give birth (or be with a partner giving birth) it still seems worthwhile to teach it to the masses. Why is it considered something you would only be interested in if you're pregnant? And who thinks pregnancy is the best time to learn about what your body can do?

1 comment:

Annie said...

You're right- I never thought about it. We aren't taught our options in childbirth, and popular culture images of childbirth always includes pain. And when we are pregnant, what we read and what we are taught presents the idea of natural childbirth as a valiant, but foolish choice, requiring safeguards and a strong threshold for pain.