“Oh wow! You’re pregnant! That’s amazing? When are you due? How are you feeling about - you know - the birth….? Did I tell you about my sister in law/best friend/daughter? She was in labour for 60 hours and had a c-section in the end anyway. The she couldn’t walk for a week. But I’m sure you’ll be fine… No really you will” Agggghhh! What’s a newly expecting mother to do? Politely smile and tell these well wishers to get lost? Or politely smile and try not to listen but secretly wonder how they will cope and if they dare wish for anything better?
There is something so British (and maybe American too) about this ritual. I suspect it has it’s roots in the whole stiff upper lip, plan for the worst, be realistic mentality that seems to be part of our culture now. I’m sure the people who share the gory stories are the same ones who watch ‘One Born Every Minute’, ‘Eastenders’ and ‘Crimewatchers’ - because it’s real life right? It’s just what happens.
And so, this poor new mum goes to all her antenatal check ups and giggles nervously when the midwives start to talk about coming in to see the hospital and planning for pain relief. She goes to her NCT group and hears the birth talk covering inductions, breech babies and c-sections. Then she goes home and watches some really dramatic birth videos on YouTube because the most popular ones are the ones which are the most sensational, with the most blood.
Is it any surprise that by the time labour starts this poor new mum to be can’t sleep, can’t eat and is so afraid that she’ll take any advice she’s given from this point on, no matter what she’d hoped for?
Why do we women do this to each other? Is it mindless continuation of the norm? Or is it passing on their tale like an old war story - it was so challenging and traumatic for them that they still need to talk about it? Or worse, a brutal way to make sure nobody has it better than them?
Well - I’m here to say I’m over it.
And that I hate it.
And that women will not begin to see more positive outcomes until we buck the trends and encourage them to think differently.
We lose nothing by being positive, by educating ourselves, by planning for the best; nothing at all.
We need to put down this idea that pessimistic thinking and scaremongering equates to grown up realism. The human mind is so powerful that all words and thoughts can have great meaning.
Fortunately, for hypnobirthing mums who are dedicated to their learning and practice, the current standard ways of thinking about birth can be gently altered and challenged. I hope that at some point soon, my teaching will become obsolete.
Once women consider childbirth to be the beautiful right of passage that it is, hypnobirthing will just become birthing.