Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. --John Milton

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Birth Ghost Stories

Remember the ghost stories told with flashlight under chin at sleepovers? I've heard birth stories told in a similar manner.

To me, a birth ghost story is one propelled by fear rather than facts. Often details are shared that have little or nothing to do with the outcome.

As a young girl I recall hearing about a difficult labor where the cord was wrapped around the baby's neck. The feeling was a superstitious shudder and sigh of relief, as if the baby was just really lucky to not have been strangled. More likely, the labor was difficult because the mother was tense and not working with contractions.

Making the cord the scapegoat feels helpless and typically results in fear-driven decisions by pregnant women who hear the scare story. Instead, hearing that the labor was difficult because of tense muscles gives a mom a specific challenge to overcome. Now she can hire a doula for example to coach her in relaxation.

Another example of a birth ghost story would be "the baby was breech and died." The implication and tone is that if your baby is breech, he will die. A factual account would share for instance that the placenta separated as baby entered the canal, cutting off oxygen.

Now a women is informed of a detailed risk and can consider her options. For instance she may feel confident delivering on hands and knees as recommended for breech or she may choose a c-section. Either way, she can make an informed choice, rather than reacting with irrational fear.

You're nine months pregnant. What is helpful to hear? What is not helpful?

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