My husband has a saying that he says to me when I am thinking and speaking negatively about myself or a situation. He immediately says, "Where did this come from. Who told you that?” For example, when I question my competence as a mother or wife he says, "Where is this coming from, who told you that you weren't a good mom, etc." He doesn't let up until I navigate through the information highway I call my brain and land at the heart of the issue.
I decided to try this with our daughter. In short, she was afraid of birth, the pain to be exact. She had already made up in her mind that instead of enduring the "excruciating pain" of childbirth that she'd rather pass and go another route. Who told her it was too much to handle?
I know as a woman (especially if you are expecting) that you sometimes receive unsolicited advice from everyone. I once had an older man at a checkout line ask me “if I planned on breastfeeding because it was the best thing I could for my child”. Although I agreed with him, I was taken back by the fact that he thought he had a say in how I fed my child.
This conversation with my daughter opened my eyes to the fact that there is another influence that we tend to overlook. It can be as subtle as in your favorite sitcom or drama to as graphic and extreme as the baby shows on TLC and the Discovery channel. About a week ago I was watching one of my favorite shows, Friends. My husband doesn’t understand how I can watch the same episodes over and over again and laugh as if it were the first time. This particular episode really struck a nerve in me and I found myself arguing with the TV.
It was the one were Rachel’s (Jennifer Aniston) water broke and they immediately went to the hospital. Now every woman is different, and our bodies respond differently to labor but on average, after a woman's water breaks it could still be hours before active labor starts. Ok, rant done. When she was admitted to the hospital 90% of the time she was laying down. The episode prior to this one she commented that she was only being nice to her obstetrician because "she has the drugs". These were funny scenes and lines but sad seeds planted unknowingly into the minds of woman.
You may be thinking, “It was show; they wrote it for entertainment not to educate women on childbirth”. How many of us watch movies or television shows when the woman is in labor, she's always on her back, screaming at the top of her lungs, threatening to kill her husband and begging and pleading for drugs? Would you agree that most of them portray that stereotypical labor and delivery? If we believe that disrespectful music, violent movies and video games have an influence on our young people, then images of women treating childbirth as a sickness and as something to be feared may be negatively influencing us as well.
In the movie Nine Months with Hugh Grant and Julianne Moore there were two women who were totally out of control during labor. The whole scene (although very funny) was incredibly chaotic and didn't portray labor and delivery the way that it can be 90% of the time. I would love to see "normal birth" shown in movies and television shows but it may not be as entertaining because it can be pretty serene, peaceful if allowed.
I am not trying to tell any one what to do, including my daughter. If she wants to adopt, then I would support that. She’s more informed now, maybe too informed, but I believe whatever desicion she makes won’t be fear-based. There is no perfect birth scenario, no template as to how it should go. Some women (my self included with my first) do not understand their options and feel that every one knows what's best for her body better than she does. If a woman wants to labor and deliver on her back, have at it. If a woman wants to have a natural birth, hospital or home birth, pain relief, induced labor, have a water birth, use a birthing stool or have an elective c-section, it's her choice. My wish and passion is for women to take ownership of their birth experience(s). To not let TV or someone’s negative experience lead them to make uninformed decisions. Having fear of the unknown is natural. It’s not uncommon to have fears throughout your pregnancy. However, to have an enjoyable pregnancy, labor and delivery you need to address those fears and concerns. Speak with your doctor or midwife, a childbirth educator, in some cases a counselor may be required. The more you know about how your body is working with you and not against you it will help quiet some of those fears.