There’s only one idea in my mind that wants to be written about this month so I’ll go with it. Trigger warning: birth pain – the emotional kind. I don’t intend to write about specific births or explicit details however I do understand that memories can be triggered by anything and everything so reader be wary.
“When we as a society begin to value mothers as the givers and supporters of life, then we will see social change in ways that matter.” (Ina May Gaskin)
Ko te wahine te whare tangata o te ao Māori – ā he mea whakanui rātou i tōna mana whakawhānau oranga.
Women are the house of humanity of the Māori world – and they are venerated for creating life.
(Te Ara 2014).
I’ve been reading, seeing or hearing many stories this month of women suffering from the way their birth went and I feel pained by the lack of value our society has for mothers generally and birth particularly. It seems to me that often it is more the way a woman is treated during labour that causes these feelings of pain, anger and grief rather than what actually happens.
It would be easy to blame ‘the system’, globalization, medicalization or the government however we don’t have control over changing those things. What we can change is the way we behave and the things we say or do about birth.
What if you became pregnant, then heard only wonderful stories of giving birth. What if everyone who loved the way their birth went told you about it and how they managed to make it so good. And biggest of all, what if no one rushed to tell you their horror stories. A realistic idea of how contractions feel even if they hurt, perhaps, but if they also said how much it was worth it and how you were treated like a goddess and felt loved and cared for throughout that would make such a difference!
And how about programmes like ‘One Born Every Minute’ were banished from TV. Or we could even choose to stop watching them so we didn’t reinforce frightening and scary ideas. Our attitude to birth and what we expect is made up of all the images that have impressed themselves on our minds knowingly and unknowingly throughout our lives.
We do have control over how we prepare ourselves for this moment of birth. We can learn how to choose positive input and refuse to hear see or watch anything that is not useful. Birth is do-able and an amazing and potentially transformative experience. We can learn to speak up, to have our own thoughts about services that are offered to us. We don’t have to meekly comply - especially if we feel something is wrong for us.
So be the social change that you want to see, show veneration for women who are creating life. Speak about birth in kind and helpful ways, encourage and support women to find their own path through pregnancy and childbirth so they come out the other end whole and stronger, eager for mothering, not broken and needing to be fixed. Promote positive images of birth and protest the negative ones.
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