I have been continuing my doula education by watching as many birthing documentaries as possible and reading as many relevant books, that I haven’t already read. I finished watching “The Business of Being Born,” again, and cried. I cried for two reasons. One, of course: babies being born. As a doula, the process of life entering this world never ceases to amaze me. The sound of a newborn infant crying for the first time will bring tears to my eyes every time. The second reason, and maybe less obvious, is the way society views birth.
For example, when I tell people that I am a doula, their first question is normally, “what’s a doula?”. These are not uneducated people. They just don’t know. And if I mention possibly becoming a midwife or assisting a homebirth, well let’s just say the looks I get are less than desirable. People have a misconception that women are weak; birth is hard, therefore a woman can’t do it on her own; and OBGYNs are a MUST if you are pregnant. Let’s clear those three misconceptions up real quick.
First misconception: “Women are weak”: If you are a woman, and you truly believe this about yourself, I am sorry. I am sorry for whomever made you feel this way, taught you this, or made you think this of yourself. If you are a woman who does not feel this way, go love on that other woman who thinks less of herself. Women are STRONG. God chose us to bear and have children for a reason: because we can! Our bodies are built for this reason.
Second misconception: “Birth is hard, therefore a woman can’t do it on her own”: Well the first part is correct. Birth is hard! That’s why we call it “labor.” It’s work, but it’s work your body was made to do. (And it is worth is!) Women have been giving birth, alone, for millennia. Seriously. Mary didn’t have a doctor, epidural, and episiotomy when she birthed baby Jesus. She had some cloths and a food trough to put him in. She didn’t have magical powers. She just did what needed to be done. Her body, YOUR body, was designed to conceive, carry, and deliver babies. I tell all my moms who are delivering their precious children: “the worst part of your worst contraction only lasts for 30 seconds; you can do this for 30 seconds.” It’s the truth. Yes, contractions last longer than that, but the worst part? The “omgosh get this &^% out of me!!!???” part….30 seconds. And for 30 seconds, I get to watch a woman rock her entire birth. I get to see her eyes light up when she realizes, “hey, I just got through that.” I love every minute of my job, in case you didn’t know. 🙂
The third misconception honestly doesn’t need to be mentioned, but for those out there who are still stuck on this, I will. “OBGYNs are a must during pregnancy.” No, they aren’t. People in third world countries with way lower mortality rates for laboring moms and infants, give birth with midwives all day long. A midwife doesn’t just up and decide to label herself a midwife, by the way. There is a lot of school involved, only unlike becoming an OB, your focus is strictly on mothers and infants. It’s extremely detailed. Midwives do not take their jobs lightly. They don’t show up at a birth with a few towels and a stethoscope. They have tons of equipment designed specifically for emergencies. I have the utmost respect for them, their time and energy, and their education. Do your own research. Educate yourself. Through education fear is dispelled.
**On a side note, OBGYNs have their place. I also have a deep sense of respect for them and their practices. If a life saving cesarean needs to be performed, then yes, on OBGYN needs to be there! They are surgeons. That is what they do. If there is a complication with an infant who is being born, then of course, an OBGYN needs to be on stand by. But for a healthy pregnancy with no known complications or risk factors-homebirths are safe. Birthing centers are safe. Midwives are safe. Giving birth is safe. Own it.