Why does everyone feel they should be invited to your birth?
It’s commonplace now with all the 3 minute, rushed, family and friend saturated, emergency looking Hollywood births we’ve watched on TV for years, that you already have family making airline arrangements two weeks earlier than necessary to make sure that they don’t miss your vagina opening in full glory. Has the media put in our minds that our family and friends should be there and deserve to be there because they’re just as excited to welcome this little one into the world? Do we OWE them a vagina viewing – who says we owe anyone that? Even I remember being told that it was pretty selfish of me to want an intimate birth experience without family there – but after getting some education about how my body and the birth process worked best, I knew I wanted it private. Although you may appreciate all the support and well intentions that family and friends want to give, did you know that by having them there, you can prolong the process and possibly increase the use of interventions? I don’t know of any woman who wants to add hours to her labor but yet many women do it unknowingly.
Since birth is usually portrayed as a “rescue type” situation, instead of an organic process that has worked in it’s most natural form for millions of years, we may not understand that we should protect its privacy and it’s sacredness. The labor process is a time of deep inward connection and preparation for raising a human being and sometimes shifting us for the first time from “maiden to motherhood.” Birth- just like sex, is meant to be an intimate experience. In order for a woman(otherwise known as a mammal), to allow her body’s innate pheromones and hormones to produce and do what they are meant to do in labor, she needs to be protected. Let me paint a different kind of picture for you.
Most women need to be in a private environment to have the full sexual experience – consisting of affection, connection and pleasure. Women need to feel safe with their partner and in their location in order to let go and feel vulnerable enough for pleasure and orgasm. Darkness also adds to the hormone production that increases the pleasure sensations and the high you can feel before, during and after sex. Keeping a woman warm (especially her feet) heightens the sense of safety and settling in for the full experience. I tell my parents in class, “think lingere and fuzzy socks to knock that orgasm outta the park!” Silence in her environment helps her sink into the experience and feel focused on(that doesn’t mean no background music, it means the stage has been purposely set to eliminate the “normal everyday chaotic noise” that surrounds routine).
Now let me ask, who was there when you created this baby? What is your mother-in-law watching from the sidelines and keeping time? Was your sister dabbing the perspiration off your forehead and trying to convince you that coconut water will keep you hydrated longer for orgasm? Was your dad there switching the TV channels trying to find the highlights of the game? How well would either of you have performed or orgasmed with a crowd of family members in the room? And if that answer is, “you wouldn’t have been phased by it,” then I’m proud of you for owning that kink! Be loud and proud of that! But – most of us would agree – there would be no erections or many vaginal secretions with an audience.
Michel Odent recognized and recorded five elements of birth within his obstetrical practice. In observing when these elements were present, he witnessed miraculous and connected births consistently. These elements, are a simple formula for undisturbed birth that have been lost with our present day birthing standards. You can choose to reinstate them into your labor and birth.
The five elements are: Privacy, Safety, Warmth, Silence and Darkness. In class, I put the birth partner in charge of creating and bubbling up the laboring mom in this type of environment. It is easiest achieved when laboring at home(most of the time) but once you have transferred to the birthing place – it can and should be recreated.
These elements should be used in a hospital, birth center as well as at a home birth. And just because you’re having a home birth still means you need to ensure these elements are arranged for ahead of time. Home birth can step outside of these elements quickly if you assume that feeling safe at home means letting all the family and friends come in. Have you heard of a watched pot? The least amount of time a mom is observed is always best unless there is an outstanding medical concern. Maintaining these elements through an entire labor and birth time is easiest when care providers, partners and doulas to work together in providing this level of safety for the laboring mother. If the birthing environment and care provider are tricky in your area, then extra plans need to be laid to ensure this feeling of safety transfers to the actual birth environment. And as I will always encourage – hire a knowledgeable doula to help. Especially if your birth doesn’t go the ideal way you planned – these elements will keep it as close to “on track” for your baby’s birth experience as can be expected when the unexpected shows up.
Birth is not a spectator sport. But in modern-day birth, we are constantly asking questions of the laboring mother, taking her blood pressure, fiddling with monitors, restricting her food and water intake, restricting her movement on and off the bed, doing a blood draw once or twice, and requiring her to come out of her safest environment early to monitor everything we “feel we need to monitor” it kind of throws all the “normal parts” of a natural process out the window. By knowing more, you can keep it simple and use time tested and proven methods to ensure you, the mammal, are fully supported through this life changing experience.