As the world spins ever faster, driven in part by increasing technological advances, I notice how this has created changes in many areas, including how parents want birth support services delivered, and in the time they are willing to spend in preparation for birth and parenthood. Sadly, I see these things being whittled down into only the barest efficient and essential elements. This time- pressed paring, leaves out some of the most loving, supportive, and important aspects, such as face- to- face human interactions, the forming of relationships, and community. My birth clients today are trying hard to force changes in my service delivery, due to their feeling ever increasing time constraints. Their push is away from more hands on, in person, warm, and loving interactions, toward a more fast, efficient, precise, to the point, cold, and sterile model, such as impersonal text messages, cell phone messages, and email communications. This is becoming so prevalent that I actually had to put a clause in my contract which states that I will not do birth support via text message, email, or cell phone messages, preferring the more personal, real time, phone, and in person communications.
Our societal overuse of technology based communication not only causes a lack of the learning of social skills, and the ability to speak in real time, or meet face to face, but it also contributes to the building of virtual walls that serve to separate, rather than bring us together. With less human interaction, we are unable to create friendships or community, and without these relational ties, our society, and our species is lost. This also speaks to the need to take a look at our values, the stories we spin which drive us, and why we are becoming so time pressured that we have no time for personal connections to one another, but rather, have become slaves to a never ending to-do list, which dangles like an unreachable carrot before a horse, the promise of success, of control, of power, of having “made it” , once we finally conquer that list, cross off every task, and reach its unreachable end.
I see this same problem manifested in the changes, over the past few years, in childbirth education offerings. We started with an 8 week series, one class per week, for 8 weeks. An 8 week class allowed time for education and learning, practicing comfort measures and pain management techniques, asking questions and benefitting from questions asked by other class participants, and also community building with other expectant couples. The 8 week class though, was too much of a time commitment for expectant couples, and so was condensed into 6 weeks, then 4 weeks. People and the whirling dervish of their schedule which drives them, became busier, and so the 2 day weekend class was invented. This too was a problem, as parents decided that they were too busy to give up an entire weekend, or 12 to 16 whole hours to learn about the birth of their child, and how to support themselves toward a gentle, peaceful birth. Soon we had an “all day intensive class”, a condensed version of the 8 week class, whittled down to 6 or 7 hours. Now, as parents complain even this is too much time to waste in a childbirth education class, hospitals are offering a 4 hour childbirth class. In just 4 short hours couples can now learn everything they will need to know about childbirth, comfort measures, pain management, how to have a peaceful birth, care for a newborn baby, and breastfeed. This is impossible. Parents tell me they want a “natural birth”, they don’t want unnecessary medical interventions, they want less technology, don’t want to give up their personal power to the medical staff, etc. In choosing to claim busyness, and servitude to a tyrannical schedule, of their own making, they are inviting and opening the door wide to allow a technological and intervention laden birth, as they are not becoming informed and educated, and have no idea about questions to ask, how to support themselves, or any pain management options other than immediate, quick fix epidurals, and even elective cesareans. We want to blame the medical system and the doctors, but the power to choose, and to sway and turn the technological birth model tide, is within our own hands, just like every other consumer driven option and choice before us. We place our votes for these things with our dollars, every day.
The saddest truth about all of this is what this refusal to make time to take part in our own education, choices, and birth is doing to our children, as they are forced to reap the consequences of over technological, and even traumatic birth, and entry into this world. Our children are being placed as a last priority on the list of things to do to prepare for their birth. This causes them to reap the negative health and developmental effects of excessive anxiety and stress on the expectant mother, as well as the unpropitious effects of mindless and minimally involved birth and parenting preparation. Do we truly understand how allowing time crunch constraints to take precedence over spending quality time reading, researching, practicing , and preparing for gentle, peaceful, mindful, pregnancy, birth, and parenting will negatively affect the quality of our childbirth experience, our bonding and closeness with our infant and partner, and the creation of a happy healthy family?
Our pregnancy and the way our children are birthed into the world have lasting developmental and health effects all the way into adulthood. This affects not only our own child, or our own family, but society as a whole. If we are not willing to prioritize our children and their health and safety, their peaceful birth and life as number one, what type of world do you think we are dooming them to grow up in and inherit? Don’t kid yourself, it won’t be the sustainable, socially just , loving, compassionate,and peaceful world we dream for them, not when we can’t even make the time to ensure their peaceful birth and start in life, which sets the stage for all their years to come. So as you face impending motherhood, what will you choose as your most important priority in life, your baby, or time pressure, an ever growing to-do list, and running around in a circle real fast, trying to see yourself from the other side busyness? The choice and its consequences are in your hands.