Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A childbirth educator's take on the state of birth and birthing classes

I enjoyed this short but spot-on interview with Erica Lyon, a childbirth educator in New York. Everything she says is both true and clearly from deep experience, as well as full of compassion. Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

I’ve heard complaints that childbirth classes end up making women feel guilty or like failures if they get pain medication or c-sections. That’s no fun. What’s going on here?

Many childbirth educators work from a place of believing that if they give a woman enough information she will make the decision that the educator thinks is best—doctors and midwives and many clinicians do this as well. A truly educated and experienced health educator in this field no longer cares what you do, she only cares about her students’ compassionate growth and ability to participate in their own care. Its not empowering to be told how to do something. It’s empowering to make conscious decisions and receive support for them and realize one’s own potential by doing that.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions among your students about what will happen in childbirth?

That it will be short, that tearing is the worst thing ever, that husbands/partners will be grossed out or turned off or useless, that the epidural makes it totally a pain free experience, that providers who are dismissive and brief are the standard (and that they wont be like that in labor), that this is the worst pain one will ever feel, that she will be in control during the labor.

Something in me wants to take that last paragraph, blow it up to poster size, and laminate it and put it up on a wall somewhere...not sure why, maybe so I can add a tick mark next to each item every time I encounter or counsel someone about that particular misconception. Maybe because each surface concern speaks to a deeper issue in terms of our society's ideas about labor and birth.

If it was acceptable to cut and paste another person's entire post, I would do it! So instead I ask you to just click over and read it all.

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