Labor Repose

Labor Repose
LaborPayne during her 6th homebirth (9th baby) at age 44

Monday, September 1, 2008

Love vs Fear

A particular locale may not be an appropriate place to birth your baby, not because technology has run amok, but because fear has. The typical hospital maternity unit is permeated by fears (but so can a birth center or a home be also). The caregivers fear you the client will sue them over the least perceived transgression, the nurses fear the doctors, the doctors fear the nurses (yes, it's true), the hospital administration fears the healthcare client, the followers fear the leaders, the leaders fear the followers and so it goes. What is the most common emotion women in our culture express about birth? Is it not fear? Our culture facilitates, and teaches our women to fear birth, through its traditions of negative fear-inducing stories. Careproviders play into this by treating birth as a risk-driven physical event to be tightly monitored and controlled rather than a spiritual event to be surrendered to and embraced. We give lip service to 'physiological birth' and 'normalization' but even the creation of these terms give testament to our pathological view of birth. All this fear ends in a lack of trust, but it begins in a lack of love. Where love is, fear cannot abide. We can begin to change our collective fear of birth by changing our stories about birth.

1. What if my birth story is not positive? Should I lie or just not tell my story?

Tell your story, dear heart, but tell it with gratitude and with hope.

2. Isn't this just wishful thinking? Can't bad things happen to me or my baby even if I 'love my birth' and 'trust my body'?

Yes, they can. That is why it is important to be grateful for the wise use of technology or the presence a skilled technician if you need either. But begin with love, dear heart. Listen to your own inner wisdom and intuitive knowing and don't allow it to always be drowned out by hyper vigilant inspectors looking for what's broken in order to fix it. (After all prenatal care does save lives- even if our model of it needs some tweaking.) Just don't allow theirs to be the only voice you hear or even the loudest. It's one thing to be diagnosed with gestational diabetes and require additional testing and monitoring. It's another to have been deemed a normal, healthy pregnancy and be bullied into an induction because you are 39 weeks and 6 days pregnant. The first is a rational response to a real concern, the second a fear-based response to current political pressures that have very little (if anything) to do with the woman herself, her pregnancy or her baby.

These are difficult things for me to write. I am after all a part of the healthcare culture and system. But remove us back to our rightful place: knowledgeable assistant at times, sometimes trusted guide, but never as savior- we cannot bear that role with grace. We were never intended to do so. If women are to take a greater role in their own births, then by necessity, we must take a lesser.

There is no fear where love exists. Rather, perfect love banishes fear, for fear involves punishment, and the person who lives in fear has not been perfected in love. 1 John 4:18


Rebekah Costello said...


Ms. Smoochy said...

This was so beautifully put!

I don't think I've ever thought through how intensely the fear really permeates.

Jill said...

And I love this. Thank you.