Finding the Right Words for Your Birth

Finding the Right Words for Your Birth

As we wrote our blog about how to prepare for childbirth, we realized that we had waaay more than one blog’s worth to talk about. This blog serves as a continuation of last week’s. In this blog, we will be talking about how we talk about the intense sensations of childbirth and how we can change it to be more supportive of pregnant parents. Next week, we’ll be talking about the benefits and drawbacks of both an unmedicated birth and a birth where medication is used for pain management. We will also discuss your options for pain management and the benefits and drawbacks of each.

But first, let’s talk about how we talk about birth.

I think some people are scared to talk about how birth feels out of fear it will make the discomfort worse. Although it is important to choose your words carefully, it is also important to prepare yourself for the reality of childbirth. In her article, Milli Hill describes why she thinks women are being failed by negative conversations about labor. She states, “The messages about birth – before and after – seem clear and consistent: it will be agony, you should be scared, don’t make a plan, and don’t get your hopes up, because it’s all beyond your control and you will only end up disappointed. I think it’s time to challenge these attitudes. At the moment, we simply do not know what birth would be like for women if they were given more positive messages and went into labour feeling strong, confident and capable.”

So two things about this. First, it was written about the birth culture in the U.K. BUT we think we have many of the same flaws in our system.

Second, we can change this!

We can give pregnant families support just by changing how we word our discussion about childbirth. We can make sure they prepare for childbirth , get them hooked in with a doula, supportive friends and family, and medical providers who are empathetic.

We can improve the system so that new parents do feel emotionally supported throughout their birth experience. We can become advocates for better birth support!

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Next, let’s re-frame the discussion.

We linked this whole article in our blog about Preparing for Childbirth but we love what they say about the pain. “It is helpful if pregnant women can to revise their learned perception of pain. They can alter how they address it by simply remembering that the pain of childbirth is not the pain of injury. There is no damage being caused by the contractions, it is just muscles working really hard to stretch and open for a baby to be born. This is an easy concept to grasp once you cease to think of birth as being an illness. It is a state of health and birth is a normal physical process.” 

In thinking of childbirth as a healthy, normal process, many birth workers will often say “surges” or “rushes” instead of “contractions”. Even just the term “contraction” creates an image of tightening and closing, whereas the cervix must relax and open for vaginal birth to occur.

They will describe the sensation as felt as “intense” or “powerful”, not as painful. If something as simple as changing how your support people talk about the sensation of childbirth can change your perception of it, do you want give it a try?

Last, learn more about your options.

Read our next blog in the preparing for birth series, which talks about the benefits and drawbacks of an unmedicated birth, a birth where medication is used for pain management, and your options for pain management.

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