Saturday, November 6, 2010

Childbirth Experience

Write about a personal birthing experience. It can be your own birth, your child’s birth, or one you took part in. What do you remember about the event? Why did you choose this example? What are your thoughts regarding birth and its impact on child development?
When I was seven years old I witnessed a home birth. A young couple, newly married, moved into the lower level of our home. She soon became pregnant and I had the opportunity to watch her transform into a place providing safety, sustenance, and warmth for a little person growing inside.

During the months that followed, I was amazed by how her belly grew larger and watched it move as the baby would move. As a child, I also wondered how the baby stayed in her belly without air (the things children think of).
When the time finally arrived for the birth, the midwife came to our home and my mother woke me because I asked if I could watch. When I walked in, the lights were dim and there were very soft recordings playing in the room and everyone, including the mother, was praying. She was as quiet as could be, all the while making faces that should have rendered some sort of moan or loud screams of pain, but she did neither. It seemed like ages to me (she actually labored for two days unbeknown to me), but when the time was near, she jumped to her feet and the women in the room held her as she proceeded to squat and push. She pushed until a huge mass of something (at the time I didn’t know it was a baby), came rushing from her body.
In astonishment, I took a big gasp of air in and watched as they quickly cleared the baby’s airway, laid the mother down, and she began to nurse the baby. The room was still very quiet, but, you could feel the exhilaration and joy in the room as everyone smiled and looked on. Then a big something else (I had no clue it was the afterbirth at that time), came out and that’s when I was told to leave the room. For the rest of the night, I lay thinking about what I had just witnessed, listening to the sounds of the beautiful baby boy crying, water running, and people speaking softly as they were leaving to go to their homes.
Today that beautiful little boy is loving and attentive husband and father of three, finishing his last term as a resident pediatric cardiologist (he chose pediatric cardiology because his younger brother died of a heart defect at a young age.)

I chose this experience as opposed to one of birth experiences, because it was very unique to have experienced such an event, especially given my age at the time. In addition to my mother, this experience was the reason I chose to work with children. When I was younger, I wanted to be a midwife, but was not able to bring my dream to fruition, but working with children, is another way for me to help children.

I think birth is one of life’s most amazing events, because a woman is able to labor and bring a new life into the world. The birthing experience has a relationship to child development because there are physical, mental, social, and developmental, implications for everyone involved. If complications arise, for example, the family must now deal with the possibility of, having to have short and/or long term rehabilitation (physical) for the child and later on in life, the child and family either positively or negatively learning how to deal lives with his/her disability (psychosocial).
Choose a region of the world or a country, other than the U.S., and find out how births happen there. Write about what you learned, and the differences and similarities with your experience (in the personal example you provided).

In recent years, with the advancements in science in many parts of the world, one will find that birthing practices are becoming similar to western forms of childbirth. But for families in the United States, citizens and immigrants, as well as other countries that choose to continue traditions and in rural parts of these countries, traditional birth practices remain an integral part of their culture.
In Japan for instance, food is an important part of the birthing process. According to an article from Hawaii Community College, “foods rich in proteins and carbohydrates such as mochi and eggs are sometimes offered and encouraged at the onset of labor to ensure adequate energy throughout the laboring process”. It is important to remain silent in the face of pain as this is seen as the proper way to for the women deal with the pain. The father, or any other male except a male doctor, is not traditionally present during the birthing process. Women traditionally are in the room with and support the laboring mother.
The similarities in the experiences of both women were that women were present to assist with the labor and both were progressing quietly through their labor.
There were two major differences in the delivery I witnessed and the experience I researched. In the case of the Japanese mother, she was expected to be stoic or “deal with the pain appropriately” according to tradition, while the mother I observed was silent because it was hers and her midwife’s belief that to yell out in pain caused the labor to require more energy than necessary. The other difference was that in the Japanese labor, the husband was not present, where in the labor I witnessed, the husband was present.

What additional insights, if any, about the impact of the birthing experience on development, did you gain from this comparison?

Final insights that I observed was that one can observe gender roles in the birthing practices of any given culture. Where one culture may see it is solely the responsibility of the women to handle the birth or where fathers can be active participants, often gives insight to the parts that each person plays in the household. It is also another example of just how similar we are as a human family and why prejudice has not place in our world.


  1. Wow, what an experience and lifelong transformation! You certainly had the opportunity to witness differ cultural birth, which is something I have not had the opportunity to witness.

    Your comment helped me recall a birth that had occurred at my home when I was a child. My parents could not afford the hospital bill and gave birth to third child at home (my younger sister). I was 3 years old at the time, so I did not remember much except that I stood in front of my parents bedroom where the door was closed. I wanted to get in there so much, but a relative moved me to another area until baby came.

    I agree that every birth is miracle. I say this because I have polycystic ovary syndrome that decrease my chance of getting pregnant dramatically. Regardless the facts that there are advanced technologies that possibly help me to get pregnant, I always thought being pregnant naturally is beyond miracle and magnificent than getting medical assistance to get pregnant (these technologies are costly).

    Do you have any idea as to why fathers are encouraged not to be present in the birthing room in other countries? Wouldn't that impact the child development?


  2. Kali, I find it fascinating that your parents allowed you to witness a live birth at a young age. In those days, children were not usually involved. Like Chrissy, they were sent to another room. It's nice to see it was a good experience and not a horrifying one, as some might think it could be.
    I am an advocate for midwives, but prefer them to practice in a hospital setting. I have seen too many complications arise unexpectedtly to be comfortable with a home birth. My son was a perfect example. I had my first child without an epidural and without complications. During the delivery of my second child, my son started showing cardiac abnormalities. His heart rate dropped to 40 beats a minute, which is very slow. He was too far into the pelvis for a c-section, so to expedede the delivery, they used forceps. They needed to get him out immediately. The umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck and as he progressed through the canal, it got tighter and caused anoxia.
    Had I not been in the hospital where there was emergency equipment and doctors, I shutter to think what could have happened to him. He is now 23 and fine. I know this not the norm, but it is my experience.

  3. Hi Susan,

    It was indeed very unusual for a child to be in the room at that time, but I'm glad she allowed me to witness it. I think my mother and the women were years before their time, because now children are allowed in the hospital room. In my last two experiences, my children were in the room with me.
    You're right that the complications that can occur make one feel that home births are risky and it could have gone a different way because the baby was actually very big ( almost 11lbs). Thankfully it was successfull.

    I'm glad all turned out for the best in your birthing experience.

    Thanks for your insight and knowledge. I'm glad I have a nurse on my team!

  4. Hi Chrissy,

    In the cultures i've studied it was not the man's "place" to be in the birthing enviornment. He was the provider and that is considered the women's "place.

    From last class, I rememeber you talking of childhood trials you overcame. You are a resilient woman. i have used this word several times in just a few days in this course, but it is very relevant to the topics of discussion. Without being too personal, are you considering going through procedures to assist in your pregnancies?

    Thank you for your insight as well.

  5. What a fantastic experience. It clearly impacted you, because you described it so vividly all these many years later.

  6. Hi Kali,

    Your story was amazing to read. The details were wonderful!

  7. Kali,
    I find the different superstitions and beliefs of cultures very interesting. I am intrigued as to why fathers are not permitted in the delivery room and wonder if it is due to modesty beliefs. The concept of expelling more energy than necessary with yelling during labor is understandable, as focusing on remaining centered might actually serve to reduce stress.

  8. Thank you all for your insights.

    It was pretty remarkable to be present at such a young age and the different beliefs are very interesting. Remaining centered is one of the beilefs that helped me get through some rough stages during my labor. Unfortunately, the last birth was the hardest and I labored for several hours and was so exhausted that I had to receive an epidural. I hadn't sleep for the last four months of my pregnancy( 1-2 hours per night) so I just couldn't do it. and it's so funny, because my littlest gives me the most trouble.