Babies aren’t teeth.
I know, it seems obvious. It’s a funny thing to say.
Pregnant and scared I went to an antenatal class and was told by a midwife that “you wouldn’t go in to get a tooth pulled without taking pain relief.”
It’s true. I wouldn’t. I’m not a fan of pain.
I thought, ‘maybe she has a point.’
But babies aren’t teeth and it’s not a good comparison.
There is one active agent involved in removing a tooth, your dentist. (I hope a fabulous dentist)
When the tooth is pulled, you might want the tooth out but your physical body isn’t going to push your tooth out. There’s only one way that tooth is leaving and that is by the expert force of your dentist.
There’s not a lot really for you to do about it, except breathe, try and relax and think about brighter days when you’re eating ice cream again.
When you have a baby it’s quite different. There isn’t just one active agent.
Baby has a little bit of a say in it.
Babies in the womb release hormones to start labour when they’re ready. They also drop and move into place. If you look at a physiological birth, babies actually have quite an active role in moving and twisting to turn out of the birth passage. They are not passive agents. They are amazing, have you seen how a newborn can instinctively move themselves towards the breast to feed.
They are pretty helpless but definitely not passive.
Second agent actively involved in birth is mama. Of course.
We know about ‘maternal effort’ right? We’ve seen it in 1000 movies about women being yelled at to push. That’s maternal effort.
Now those movies have a lot to answer for because you don’t need to be lying on your back screaming. In fact, being lying on your back screaming is probably one of the least helpful things you can do. But more about that elsewhere.
The point I’m making is babies make an effort to be born and women make an effort to birth babies.
Women come to pregnancy yoga all the time to get support and learn skills, like body awareness, building strength and learning how to actively relax. Women who maybe never did yoga before.
The person who’s delivering the baby, I mean the person/ people who are assisting at the birth… they are the third agent. They are not dentists. Their primary job is not to pull your baby out.
It does happen, babies and mamas may need help, and yes pulling your baby out can be painful, but that’s not really their job.
And with every medication, there are pros and cons.
I’m not for one moment saying don’t get an epidural or don’t take pain medication. It may be really, really beneficial for you. But know your options and the ways you can manage your own pain.
Come to yoga, make a birth plan, do hypno-birthing. This stuff really works.
It will allow you to be more active in birthing your baby.
And it’s a life skill. Who is going to have a pain free life? We’ll all experience some kind of pain at some point.
Yoga can help us with this.
But nobody can judge your threshold of pain. Everyone should have that choice. But to assume that everyone’s going to need pain relief or that babies are like teeth, or that women are silly to think they don’t want an epidural. Well that’s just not true.
The comparison between going into labour and getting a tooth out is at best, unhelpful and at worst frightening and problematic. Epidurals can slow down labour and lead to further interventions. Fear is not our friend for birth.
Women’s bodies are amazing. Women are amazing. They deserve to be heard and supported with their birth choices.
If you are a yoga teacher reading this and you’d like to know more, download my free guide to supporting pregnant women in the yoga class.