Saturday, July 19, 2008

Husband-Coached Childbirth

With my renewed library enthusiasm, I checked out and read Husband-Coached Childbirth this week. I was interested in the book for "historical value" primarily, because Dr. Bradley made so many contributions to the natural childbirth movement and was really a pioneer in natural childbirth and birth education. I didn't particularly like his paternalistic attitude throughout the book and there was something offputting about his tone as well as many of the things he said (the whole "properly trained women" who know how to "conduct themselves" during labor and referring to women as "she was a good obstetrical athlete," as well as a weird section about the "chapped and brittle" vaginas of American women being the cause of tears and episiotomies...). Most of the book is written towards the husband and preparing him to be a good "coach." I recognize that this approach works well for some families. However, as I've referenced in this blog before when mentioning Bradley, it seems that this approach to birth has a very rigid set of "correct" birth behaviors and techniques (very specific side-lying position to labor in, etc.) and my own philosophy centers much more around trusting your inner wisdom, doing what feels good, and listening to your instincts (not your "training" and your "coach.")

There were a couple of things I really liked in this book though too. One was his recurrent use of the word "motherlike." He'd say, "XYZ might not be ladylike, but it IS motherlike...." Another was his reference to the "birth climax." We've been discussing the new birth film Orgasmic Birth on several email lists recently and I have reservations about the choice of title for the film (especially because apparently only one birth in the film is actually "orgasmic" the others are more like "ecstatic" or "joyful," not literally orgasmic). In this Bradley book he references "Helen Wessel's new [1974] term 'birth climax'...subjectively comparing the feeling of birth with the emotional climax in lovemaking." On the email list I'm on, I wrote: Personally, I think birth is such an encompassing and tremendous experience in and of itself, it doesn’t really need orgasm mixed in with it to be powerful and exhilarating (though, its not like I’m opposed to orgasm. It just seems like separate types of happenings, though still on the sexual lifecycle continuum). I think the closest I could come (no pun intended, LOL!) is to “pleasurable” birth, but even though it involves the same body parts, it is a completely different type of experience to me than sex/orgasm.

Then another CBE who had seen the film wrote about it (and the appropriateness of the title) as follows: "If you are not literal but figurative certainly orgasmic could be applied to each of these births....Orgasmic should be applied to something ultimately enjoyable, physiologically intimate and rewarding and I think these births fall in that category. Doesn't a wonderful orgasm make you feel good about yourself? Your body? The mom who says there aren't many times in your life when you can say you are proud of yourself ... and her eyes are welling up .... and enjoying birth isn't something we talk about just like orgasms aren't talked about in public .... that's an orgasmic birth."

So, after pondering these thoughts and then reading the term "birth climax" and thinking about the powerful wave of emotions and euphoria after giving birth, I'm starting to "get" the Orgasmic Birth title. Heck, I guess my "powerful and exhilarating" might actually be talking about "orgasmic birth" after all!

No comments: