Rebecca’s Story: Reclaiming Birth Power

December 12, 2007 at 4:48 pm Leave a comment

From Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom: Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing by Christiane Northrup, M.D., Chapter 12: ‘Pregnancy and Birthing:’

Rebecca’s Story: Reclaiming Birth Power
“The following story is related in the words of Bethany Hays, Rebecca’s obstetrician.

“‘Rebecca was a second-time mother whose first labor had been long, but she did well with the help of her labor support person and a gentle loving husband.  Rebecca arrived at the hospital for her second birth already seven centimeters dilated and feeling great.  She walked and talked with her team of supportive people, and she sipped fluids.  She tolerated our medical intrusions into her birth with monitor, blood pressure cuff, and thermometer.
“‘After several hours, Rebecca was still only seven to eight centimeters dilated.  She was puzzled and frustrated, wanting to ‘get on with it.’  We discussed her options, including rupture of the membranes, which might bring the baby’s head down against the cervix.  The cervix felt ready and soft enough to allow the passage of the head, waiting for some unknown work yet to be done.

“‘After considering the possible negative effects of it, she chose to rupture the membranes.  This was done.  Now the contractions got harder, but after some time the exam showed that she was not quiet fully dilated.  The head was still high up in the pelvis.  She showed some urge to push when squatting, but she was not pushing effectively.  Her monitrice [professional labor support person] reminded me that during the first labor, she had also had difficulty pushing – requiring three hours in the second stage and pressure applied to the posterior vaginal wall to encourage her to push.
“‘Maybe that would help again someone suggested.  So as Rebecca squatted, I knelt on the floor, placed two fingers in her vagina, and pushed firmly on the posterior wall.  Her response was an immediate and reflexive withdrawal.  I realized that not only was I causing her pain, but I was triggering some much more serious emotional response.  My own reaction was equally strong. ‘No,’ I thought, ‘I will not participate in this abuse.  This is sexual abuse of another woman’s body, and I will not do it.’
“”Rebecca, I said, ‘let’s try something else.  Now I have always been touched at the faith (often undeserved) that patients place in me, and I knew that she trusted me.  Whatever the new plan was, she would try it.  The joke was that I had no plan.  I was flying totally by the seat of my pants.  I asked her to get comfortable, and she arranged herself semi-reclining on the bed, with her husband behind her.  ‘Now,’ I said, ‘I just want you to relax and listen to my voice.  First, go down inside yourself and find your baby where he is in your body.  When you are with him, tell him he is okay, in case he is scared.’
“‘As we waited, a slow smile came over her face, and I knew that she was with her baby.  The fetal monitor no longer disturbed her.  IT now showed sudden resolution of the small to moderate variable decelerations she’d been having with contractions. [Variable decelerations are heart rate patterns associated with compression of the umbilical cord, which can sometimes produce stress in the baby.]
“‘Now,’ I said, ‘I want you just to listen.  Many of us women have not owned all the parts of our bodies.  We have not allowed ourselves to feel our vaginas and our perineums.  They have seemed separate and are not within our control  They have negative connotations: pornographic or dirty.  In many was these parts of our bodies are problematic for us.  But the truth is that they are ours.  They belong to us like our hands and our lips and our minds.  This part of your body is yours, and you can reclaim it.  Right now.  Take it back as the sensual, enjoyable part of you that it really is.  Since it is yours, you are totally in control.  You can allow your baby to move through this part of you as fast or as slowly as you like.  It does not have to hurt you, but you will feel very strong signals from this part of your body that your are not used to feeling.  Allow those feelings and celebrate them as the return of a long-lost friend.’
“‘Now we were all watching.  Rebecca was totally relaxed, lying in her husband’s arms.  The room was quiet except for the fetal monitor which was quietly attesting to the continued well-being of the baby.  I was wondering if  I was deluding myself-pretty sure that everyone in the room must think I was nuts.
“Suddenly I realized that with each contraction, Rebeca’s perineum was bulging – the head was coming down.  It was working.  Occasionally, Rebecca lost contact with her body, became frightened, and clutched her husband.  Immediately when this happened, the baby’s heart rate pattern showed prolonged variable decelerations with slow recovery.  At these points, I would say again, ‘Talk to your baby, Rebecca.  He’s scared.  Remember, don’t go any faster than you want to.  This is your body.  All of it belongs to you.’
“‘Once again, Rebecca was quiet, and we saw the baby’s head begin to crown  Soon, with little or no pushing effort, the baby was born into his mother’s loving arms.’
“After hearing this story, I realized that the second stage of my own second labo might have been different if I’d had a doctor like Bethany hays.  I also realized that I have been involved in the unwitting physical abuse of many laboring women by pushing down on their vaginas to try to help them push, and by encouraging them, like a football coach, to ‘push him out.’  I wouldn’t have done that if I had known what I now know.”

Related posts:
Turning Labor into Personal Power
Birth and Female Sexuality

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Entry filed under: childbirth, pregnancy, sexuality, spiritual. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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