Childbirth Choices Guide: The Kitzinger Psychosexual Approach to Childbirth

"Our bodies know how to give birth, just as we know how to swallow food, breathe and make love... An exultant experience of birth comes from self-confidence and a good relationship with those supporting us."
--Sheila Kitzinger

Sheila Kitzinger's psychosexual philosophy of birth is informed by her research and experience as a psychologist, anthropologist, mother and grandmother. While her books include many breathing and relaxation techniques, the overall philosophy focuses on the birth as a profound experience in which the woman is an active birth giver rather than a patient. Because Kitzinger views birth as a social situation, not just a physiological event, her approach involves learning how to communicate with and understand those assisting with the birth. She is a strong advocate of homebirth and water birth for women who are not at high risk for complications. She takes the position that pain relief almost invariably has an effect on the progress of labor, and that the mother and no one else should decide whether that is "a price worth paying."

The Basics
-- Techniques including touch relaxation, during which the birthing woman learns to respond to her partner's massaging touch
-- Communication skills for working with birth attendants
-- Visual imagery
-- Birth dance -- movement during labor to reduce pain and help contractions
-- Information and techniques for labor support givers
-- "Go with the flow" breathing exercises (not contrived breathing patterns)
-- How to make informed medical decisions about the birth
-- To respond passionately to labor and birth

What You Might Like
-- Kitzinger's philosophy is rooted in research about birth in many cultures over many centuries
-- She offers comprehensive, in-depth information about practical techniques, birth options and emotional, social and cultural aspects of birth

-- Like Balaskas, Kitzinger is based in the U.K., and while her teachings are incorporated into many childbirth education courses worldwide, it may be difficult to find a class that focuses entirely on her philosophy

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