I was introduced to Whapio Diane Bartlett's Holistic Stages of Labor by Gena Kirby, at one of her workshops. It has changed the way I view a birthing family. It broke down the stages eloquently. There are no numbered stages, no medical jargon, no one size fits all signs of each stage. It shows labor and birth as a process beyond earthly limits. It shows how natural, untamed, and powerful birth can be, which is not a view of birth that our society typically sees. It depicts a process in which the mother, father, and baby know what to do. It proves that the bond that conceived the baby will bring the baby into this world. You can read about the stages here:
After reading Bartlett's understanding of the birthing process, I was interested in looking at how birth perceptions have changed.
Depictions of birth throughout time has changed drastically in the last century and a half. Birthing women used to be viewed as strong and powerful, knowing what to do when the time came for her baby to enter the world.
Many times these women would be supported by other women and strong men but they were still trusting their bodies, babies, and instincts to birth.
But as the medical profession stepped in, birth came to be known as this:
Please note that the mother is almost completely absent from sight in this photo.
While she the mother is pictured in this photo, she is in a position that is known to be non-conducive for labor. Making it harder on both the mother and baby. The only one advantaged by this is the medical team.
Birth is now synonomous with frightening looking tools that are largely used when women are given medical interventions or are in positions that make pushing non-conducive.
Again, in these next two images the mother is not the focal point. The doctors are the saviors, delivering the babies to the new parents.
The images of birth show how our societal perceptions have changed. Birth became something to be intervened with, a process not to be trusted. It became a profession to "deliver" babies, handing them to the mother as a gift that is being bestowed upon them by you, instead of viewing it as a process that the family is in control of. Consequently, mothers became wary, they became compliant, the natural processes became suppressed by interventions and advice from medical professionals. Fathers were absent from the birth. And when they were finally included in the birth space, it was as an observer of their partner's "suffering" of labor; standing back, unable to help in the procedures being performed.
Thankfully a revolution has started. One in which the power of birth is being brought to light.
Modern birth can look like this:
Birth is a natural process. It can need intervention when medically necessary. But however the outcome, it cannot be denied that the mother, father, and baby hold an intrinsic power. The process does not need to be broken down into well defined stages, labeled with medical jargon. The process is not something that the mother is suffering from, in which she needs to be saved. The process needs to be understood as a natural, cosmic occurrence. This process, when it is respected, leads to the start of a powerful, wonderful journey for the new family.