Birth in the Media (and why you should NOT form your opinions from it)
Okay, so how many of us have seen 'Knocked Up', or the birth episode of 'Friends', or those TLC shows like 'I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant'? Probably most of us, right? For many people, THAT is where they get all of their knowledge of birth from. It usually starts with a huge gush that is your water breaking followed by immediate panic and rushing to the hospital where they scream in agony until the baby is born relatively soon after.
This is baloney.
Though it isn't to say that some births actually do happen that way; they are just few and far between. Every single birth happens differently, there is no way you can plan it. Sometimes your water WILL break with a relieving gush that brings on strong contractions, but a lot of the time it's a small trickle that can continue for hours. Sometimes your waters don't even break, and that's okay too.
I witnessed a doula from South Africa instruct a childbirth preparation class where she told the parents-to-be that where she came from it was commonplace that young girls witness births. They still have a close-knit community type environment over there where birth is just another part of life, and not a super secret, private event. These girls are growing up knowing all about the many ways births can differ, as well as how to handle it, and they see it for what it truly is: a natural, normal part of life. They would laugh at how western society portrays it. Needless to say this information shocked the Canadian students. We just do things differently here.
In reality, birth is actually very boring most of the time. Contractions are painful, yes, but when you're not contracting you feel like your normal self. Your body gives you only what you can handle. It is long and slow, intense but exciting. It would just not make good TV if you showed how a real labour progressed.
I tell all my mamas (who have never birthed before), to try to avoid watching movies portraying birth, or if you do, please take it with a grain of salt. The last thing a pregnant woman needs is to see Katherine Heigl screaming bloody murder in a bright room surrounded by medical staff, as this will scare the living daylights out of her and she will fear her own labour. Fear just creates tension which causes pain. It's a vicious cycle.
Mindset is so so important. Just keep in mind, that what you see when you watch a Hollywood birth, is not always what you get in real life. Please don't stress yourselves out over it. It does not have to be as scary as it looks. Sometimes, it can actually be enjoyable...but that's a topic for another time.