I’ve lived in two capital cities, several large country cities and a capital city satellite town in my 30 years on this earth. I have friends with a variety of backgrounds, some only from the city, some only from the country, some who have lived in both.
I find there’s a massive difference in attitudes towards birth depending on a person’s background. Of course this is a no-brainer; our background and life experiences shape almost everything about us. But it’s still an interesting topic to explore.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve lived and worked on a commercial horse stud. I’ve seen mammalian birth first hand many times, and noticed that animals can’t doubt their ability to give birth. There’s no fear, no anticipation. The process just starts and usually goes off without a hitch.
People who have grown up in or had a lot of exposure to the country, and in particular animal farming communities, usually have a more innate understanding of the process of birth. They may not know the science behind it, but they know if they go and watch a cow in labour and make her feel observed, she’s probably not going to calve very well. It has everything to do with hormones and the need for animals to feel safe in order for their birth to progress.
We like to think that humans are different from other mammals, but the truth is, when it comes to modern medical birth, we’re a bit dumb. We are the only mammalian species who routinely travels away from our ‘nest’ to give birth. In the West we typically travel to busy hospitals, where there are strange noises, strange people, and we’re the only ones there that are not sick or injured. It’s the opposite of what our hormones want us to do. For proper hormone choreography, mammals need to have privacy, feel unobserved and safe. If any of those needs aren’t met, our brain releases too much adrenaline, which inhibits the release of oxytocin. Oxytocin, in increasing amounts, is needed for labour to start and progress.
People who have always lived in the city, and don’t have close relatives or friends with a more country background, have a harder time connecting with these ideas. They’re so removed from a world where birth happens every day. Their own pregnancy may be the most exposure they’ve ever had to growing a human, their own baby may be the only one they’ve ever had more than 10 minutes contact with.
Regardless of whether you’ve grown up in the country or the city, you should invest in independent childbirth education, a birth doula and a postpartum doula. These three professionals (or one super-human) will assist you in making empowered, informed decisions, and in feeling calm and confident through your last weeks of pregnancy, your labour, and your first weeks of parenthood.
Contact me today to chat about how I can support you through this massive life event.