In the United States, the majority of births occur in the hospital where women are EXPECTED to deliver their baby's in the lithotomy position; which is extremely counterproductive to pushing and I think we would all agree it's uncomfortable and unflattering.
How humiliating the traditional hospital birth must be for some women who have kept their sexuality within the confines of their relationships and bedroom, but now their most intimate body part is exposed during a more or less "unflattering" event. Some women even experience a level of embarrassment or anxiety when it comes to topics relating to, or issues with, their vaginas.
From early childhood we are trained that our genitals are "private parts" intended only for ourselves and those we love and trust. We spend years functioning with this knowledge and it becomes a part of what we believe to our very core. Then we are expected to set dignity aside in order to make OUR BIRTH more convenient for the practitioner catching the baby... this needs to change!
In the past, I had only thought of this as an issue for myself and I decided that I wanted to have my births at home; not only to avoid the diseases and interventions that hospitals have a plethora of, but also because I saw this as the only location where I could preserve my pride and dignity.
Around this time I read Brigitte Jordan's book Birth in Four Cultures and I was particularly moved by the respect shown to laboring mothers by the Mayan Midwife who never looks under the sheet hanging over the woman's legs because this would undermine her privacy, rather, she uses her hands to 'see' what she needs to.
I recently met a potential birth client who was experiencing anxiety from the knowledge that during her birth she would be so inhumanely exposed and embarrassed by the attention focused at her vagina. She requested that vaginal exams be kept to an absolute minimum and even asked if a curtain could be hung, like in Cesarean births, so she couldn't see what was going on... essentially she is trying to disconnect from the lower half of her body so she doesn't feel the embarrassment of exposure.
This is FEAR that can easily be avoided! We MUST maintain a women's dignity and encourage her empowerment and pride. Allowing her the comfort and respect for privacy will decrease her fear, enabling the birth process to function in a more optimal manner.
While reading HypnoBirthing - The Mongan Method, I was struck by one of the "Articles of Birth Affirmations" which says:
- Women's bodies and, in particular, their vaginas, are as sacrosanct during pregnancy and birth as they are at any other time. Routine and unnecessary prodding and manipulation should be avoided in the absence of medical urgency.