Childbirth is and always will be a woman’s experience. This does not mean that men are not participants, involved in the process, but they do not undergo the transformation of physicality inherent for their mate. For this reason, childbirth is feminine. It is an experience of sufficient power to generate tremendous amounts of anxiety, fear, excitement and anticipation. Labor is not by it’s nature, a neutral event. Our experience of ourselves and our sense of personal identity is in constant flux with our life’s unfolding. Because of the intensity of such an experience as childbirth and all that it entails, it is one that will help formulate a woman’s identity. Like any powerfully significant event in our lives, it has the potential for mastery or c overwhelm, empowerment or devastation. Getting trapped in a battle about “the right way to give birth” or “the right way to feel about your childbirth experience” misses the very real need to integrate the experience. A woman needs opportunity to explore the relationship to her changing body and identity as she becomes a mother, if she is to feel at all “ready” for childbirth. There is no right method or experience. There is a basic need to psychologically metabolize all that is happening!
DEALING WITH PAIN
Experiences of empowerment and beauty that also encompass coping with pain threaten the status quo. Women may feel pressured to lie about the pain to avoid being devalued in their own positive experience of childbirth. This unintentional deception can leave subsequent generations of women in our culture vulnerable to a recurring cycle of mystery and inadequate information surrounding birth. When this happens, messages recur which promise women the positive experience with no pain if they adhere to a particular method. Though these methods do not succeed at very high rates statistically, they fit the socially accepted value that positive experiences should not include pain. Research has shown that the best preparation in terms of statistical success for any method of natural childbirth is a realistic one which includes an experience of mastery in coping with pain. Why is it that we as a society have difficulty accepting that something intensely difficult or even painful might also encompass a feeling of power, beauty and ease?