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It is sometimes called “our inner knowing,” “the gut feeling,” or “the wisdom within.” Whatever its name, the experience is universal. It is a feeling, a word, an image that stands out bolder than the regular stream of conscious thought and it makes a slightly deeper impression on our minds. It will continue to guide us, depending on our receptive attention to it.
Natural processes like pregnancy and birth are dependant upon a woman’s ability to trust in her inner knowing. This wisdom leads women to support and trust the process rather than work against it. In this way, nature is allowed to take its course.
For centuries, this very intuition led women in their decisions for their own health and the well being of their families. Relying on its ageless wisdom, women listened to its promptings and trusted its guidance.
During birth, women used to decide which position would be most comfortable. They were free to move about during labor and delivery to manage the pain. Somehow, they knew that the squat position allowed the pelvis to open up more freely—one-third more in fact! If other people were present at the birth, they were there to support, not direct the process. Timing was not an issue; the baby was born at just the right moment. Once born, the mother immediately held, caressed, and nursed the baby. Separation was unheard of. Mother and child recovered quickly and grew strong together. There was confidence in this process as in any other body process: with respect and a sense of fulfillment.
Today, however, the birth process has turned into a technological procedure. The medical system in the United States is considered to be the most highly advanced in the world. We spend more on birth than any other country in the world. We expect this technology to improve our lives and solve our problems. We are led to believe this technology alone leads to improved outcomes. Why then does the World Health Organization rank the United States as 24th (last) among all industrialized nations in infant mortality and low birth weight?
Doris Hare, president of the American Foundation of Maternal and Child Health says, “It compels us to ask, what proportions of these complications, which have had their onset during labor and birth, are the direct result of aggressive obstetric procedures?”
This increase in technology leads to restrictions that apparently cause more harm than good. “Women are strapped down with monitors and forced into positions which are counter to gravity and normal physiology. They are forced into the hospitals schedule, inconsiderate of their normal birthing rhythms. This greatly slows down the natural momentum. The origin of this position had nothing to do with being safer for the mom or baby and yet its practice has remained unquestioned for centuries!
These restrictions in birth make women feel afraid and powerless. Fear shuts down the process both psychologically and physically. It actually constricts blood vessels and contracts muscles. This leads to greater pain. Drugs are given to ease the pain and the woman’s physical strength and uterine function is impaired further. Her ability to stay connected with her body is impaired and even cut off. She is not told that the drugs can harm her child’s developing organs and even intelligence.