Recently, a photo of a mother on my Facebook newsfeed, postpartum and wearing cotton mesh undies, got me thinking about the language we use surrounding childbirth and motherhood. She seemed to desire a raised awareness for how postpartum really is, including this intimate aspect. Amanda Bacon writes, "This is motherhood; it's raw, stunning, messy, and freaking hilarious all rolled into one."
I have noticed that not only does our culture tend to sugar coat reality (hence the notability of seeing a woman in this situation), there is a tendency to characterize childbirth as "amazing" or "beautiful". Or, to not talk about it in any detail at all - at least with expectant mothers. (After giving birth, you may hear a lot of details from other mothers!) I think that this language, or lack thereof, can lead to two scenarios. On the one hand, expectant mothers go into childbirth with unrealistic expectations. On the other, for those who have given birth and have not had an experience that warrants glowing reviews, there is additional disappointment.
The language we use to describe our experiences is crucial; it quite literally impacts how we think, feel, and act. You can try this out as an experiment the next time you have a negative thought about someone or something. Ask yourself afterwards how that thought affected you - your posture, your breathing, your temperature, your actions. You might be surprised.
Then along comes something as momentous as having a baby, something that is absolutely laden with pre-conceived notions and feelings. Perhaps there is joy, trepidation, ambivalence, fear, curiousity...the list goes on and on. I would like to create a space for this topic in which it is okay to feel all of these things, to have the entire spectrum of emotions. By making room not only for the baby but for the feelings surrounding having the baby, energy can be made available for the actual birth.
However amazing and beautiful childbirth can be, there might be times and places when those are the words farthest from your mind. By creating acceptance for this, by receiving reality in whatever form it comes, by creating a language surrounding this act that allows for each woman to find her own words and truth, I think that we can achieve this space. Childbirth simply is.
How would you like to talk about it?