Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Part 2 - Fear and Pain: A Cultural Picture of Childbirth...and What We Can Do to Change It

As discussed in Part 1 of this post, the experience of childbirth - and particularly the experience of childbirth as inherently painful - is strongly influenced by cultural perceptions and norms. In America, birth is largely defined by the culture-bound idea that pain and childbirth are inextricably linked. Insofar as thoughts and beliefs can impact personal experience, women who are told repeatedly to expect that birth will be grueling, difficult and painful naturally internalize these views (and the fears that result from them) over time and, thus, their birth experience could more likely be a painful one.

Challenging Our Views of Birth
If an understanding of birth as fundamentally painful and unpleasant can lead women to experience it as such, one has to wonder if this rule can be reversed. Are women who view birth as inherently comfortable -something to be embraced rather than resisted - and themselves as calm, confident and capable, less likely to have painful, difficult birth experiences?