A few weeks back, my husband came home from having coffee with a friend, whose wife was almost full-term pregnant. As we were tag-teaming taking care of kids and cleaning the kitchen, he told me that his friend's OB had scheduled a routine induction for his wife on the following Monday (she would have been 41 weeks along). I immediately stopped what I was doing and asked him urgently, "Do they want me to send them some ideas for natural induction?" to which my husband replied that he didn't think they would be interested in that kind of information. Since I hardly know these people, I didn't pursue it further.
But later in the day I was thinking about why I was so quick to want to help this woman that I hardly know avoid induction. Was it because around 50% of first time moms who get induced end up with a cesarean? Was it because of all the unknown (and known) risks of pitocin on baby, not to mention the fact that it makes laboring without pain medication next to impossible?
Yes, I think, it was those reasons.
But underlying it all is my deep conviction that birth matters. Birth is such an utterly transforming experience, either for the good or the bad - or some of both. And I want it to be good. I so want birth to be positive for every woman.
Whether you realize it or not going into it, the birth experience you have will affect you in a profound way for the rest of your life. Every woman I've talked to, no matter her age or how old her kids are, can remember exact details about how her birth went. She can remember certain words that were spoken to her, whether she was treated with dignity and respect, or belittled. And how we are treated in our most vulnerable moments... it sticks with us. It becomes part of us. It either builds us up as women who know we are capable and strong and able to conquer anything that gets thrown at us, or it subtly tears us down with lies that we are not good enough.
And so many women are believing these lies. Insecurity and fear seem far too common in the women I interact with on a day-to-day basis. These are huge issues! And I just wonder... What if our society started treating childbearing women with more respect? What if birth was viewed as a sacred right of passage instead of a scary medical event? Would the trend among young mothers begin to be confidence over fear, strength over insecurity? I do believe it would.
I think Ina May was onto something when she said, "When we as a society begin to value mothers as the givers and supporters of life then we will see social change in ways that matter."
I want to see it happen.