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.