31 July 2009

I've been pondering today. I started out by reflecting on Olivia's birth and people's reactions to the fact that we chose to birth unassisted. I was struck by how much people fear childbirth, from the pain to possible complications and beyond. And the more I pondered, the more I saw that the fear surrounding childbirth is part of a bigger picture of the fear that surrounds women's bodies.

We're scared of so many things when it comes to our bodies. We fear the untimely arrival of our menstrual cycles and the practically deadly shame if anyone should discover that we're bleeding. We buy feminine hygiene products (are we unhygienic without them?) that promise to save us from embarrassment, some of which even contain perfumes to further mask the frightful event.

We're scared of becoming pregnant. We put hormones and devices into our bodies so that they don't betray us and host a new life that we're not prepared for. So many women don't trust that they can learn to understand their bodies and avoid pregnancy without chemicals.

We fear pregnancy. Oh do we ever fear pregnancy. We've turned what is, in most cases, a time of health and growth into one long frightening event. We're scared we'll gain too much weight or too little. We're scared we'll eat the wrong foods or exercise the wrong way. We're worried that our bodies won't sustain the little life in us and we rely on tests and close monitoring to ensure that we're miraculously not messing things up in there.

And birth is just a continuation of it all. We fear we'll go into labour too early, too late, or not at all. We're scared our bodies will fail us, whether it's a labour that stalls out, a pelvis that's too small, or a cervix that won't dilate according to the proper schedule. We're afraid that we won't be able to handle the intensity of labour and we seek drugs to save us.

Once baby's here, we worry that our breasts aren't competent to nourish him. Our milk is too watery, too sparse. We watch clocks, count diapers, and supplement with formula at the drop of a hat.

Was there a time when women trusted their bodies to grow and live and just be normal? There must have been. And if so, when did it all change? When did we lose our confidence in ourselves and our abilites? And what would it take to get it back?


Shari said...

So well written and soooo true!!!

paige said...

i think i may have to read this entire blog... ;)

KimProbable said...

Thanks Shari! :)

Paige: Do it, and then remind me to write more often! I keep forgetting how satisfying it is to type out all the thoughts buzzing around in my head.

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