In preparation for birth, we tend to mostly focus on the physical aspect. We nourish our body and unborn baby with nutrient-dense food. We exercise to prepare for the physical demand of labor. We take carefully selected tonic herbs or supplements to strengthen and tone our wombs. Although all of these things are important, we often tend to forget that birth is also a mental, emotional, and spiritual journey as well. Our emotions and mentality surrounding birth plays a very large role in the process.
Unfortunately due to decades of the medicalization of birth and cultural conditioning, we have several generations of women and partners who have no idea what normal, respectful, physiological birth looks like. Many women were subjected to non-evidence based interventions without informed consent and without respectful care such as being confined to bed, deprived food, augmented with pitocin, routine cervical checks, episiotomies, supine position purple pushing. Media and entertainment adds fuel to the fire with their dramatic portrayals of birth. As a result, women and their daughters are taught birth is scary, horrible, and always an emergency. Moms-to-be suffer through birth horror stories spewed at them during their baby shower. Their mothers tell them of the routine episiotomy and how babies "run big" in the family. Aunts assert that it is so much easier to get induced. Best friend tells the expecting mom to just schedule a cesarean. None of the experiences were evidence-based or respectful care, yet it is talked about as if it is the norm of what birth should be. Sometimes there is even a crab pot mentality at play where someone doesn't want you to succeed at your goals because they didn't succeed.
All of this negative energy feeds into the expecting woman's birth bubble. Formerly peaceful, now she is conflicted. Once confident, now she is fearful. "Maybe I am being unrealistic. What if I can't do this?" Her husband is also now terrified and tries to persuade mom to change her birth plan. Mama's toxic provider fearmongering about her alleged "small pelvis" has mom feeling discouraged. By the time labor arrives, all this negative energy has planted seeds of doubt in mom's mind and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
On the flip side of the coin, women who had a respectful birth experience are silenced. Accused of "mom shaming", those who try to educate on the physiological process of birth and address myths and non-evidence based care are told to be quiet. "Nobody gets a trophy for natural birth!" is what they are told when they assert birth doesn't have to be a micromanaged, traumatic experience.
So how do you protect your birth bubble? Knowledge is power. Learn all you can about normal, physiological birth. Read positive birth stories of all different types of birth and encouraging books that such as Birthing from Within or Ina May's Guide to Childbirth. Watch gentle, positive births on YouTube and watch films such as Orgasmic Birth. Write birth affirmations, and read them often. Surround yourself with people who provide a positive energy. Take a non-hospital affiliated natural birthing class. Openly discuss your fears with your partner and allow your partner to be open with you; learn together. Erect boundaries with those who seek to criticize your efforts by telling them it is not a topic up for discussion. Hire a birthkeeper to journey along side you.
We need to change the narrative surrounding birth. We have generations of women who were taught that captive birth, interventions without consent, and birth trauma are acceptable. Let's teach future generations about informed consent, empowerment, and physiological birth.
Regardless of the birthing situation(cesarean, medically necessary induction, home birth), it is should be the norm to treat a mother with respect and provide informed consent. I leave you with a quote I love from the documentary The Birth Reborn:
"Women believe that they're unable to give birth to their children in a more natural and physiological way because culture contaminates their self-esteem, and then what should've essentially been an empowering process by giving birth to their children became a process that fundamentally strengthens doctors and corporations. We need to clear our mind of the contamination that women do not know how to birth."