Nine Months+: The Complete Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth – extract
Posted Oct 03 2012 8:07am
Research published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (27/06/12) showed that women who had a fear of childbirth had longer labours which were more complicated and in need of intervention. One in five have a condition called tokophobia, which is an extreme fear of birth. There’s much focus on the physical side of preparation – birthing positions, therapies and pelvic floor exercises but less said about the emotions – what to do if you are feeling unprepared, scared, or anxious about parenthood and how life will change.
How you feel about giving birth and your physical surroundings can make all the difference to your actual experience says women’s health expert Dr Christiane Northrup in the DVD Orgasmic Birth. She explains that we are conditioned to fear birth as something dramatic and painful but it doesn’t have to be that way, as the DVD illustrates through 11 couples and their birthing stories. I recommend watching it if you are feeling anxious about labour. There are some insightful comments that stayed with me: ‘A lot of women, given the right circumstances, have orgasms [during labour]’ and ‘Birth is a part of a woman’s sex life’.
Natural childbirth guru Ina May Gaskin has written several bestselling books on natural childbirth. In a recent article: ‘Time For a Pussy Riot’ by Viv Groskop (The Independent, 2/09/12) she explains that in prehistoric times women’s genitalia were celebrated as symbols of fertility. ‘This continued into the medieval ages with Sheela Na Gigs, figurative carvings of naked women displaying an exaggerated vulva pulled open.’ Gaskin celebrates these carvings and talks about how society’s fear of the vagina has contributed to a fear and medicalisation of childbirth.
She says in her book Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth (quoted from Groskop’s article): ‘My idea is that this figure [the naked Sheela Na Gig] was probably meant to reassure young women about the capabilities of their bodies in birth. As you can see, the vulva of the crouching figure is open enough to accommodate her own head. Such a sight is encouraging to a woman in labour. I’d like to see a large rendition of a Sheela Na Gig as part of the décor of birth rooms in maternity units’.
Something to bear in mind for your room if you can find a print perhaps!