Monday, June 10, 2013

A Sphincter Says What?

So it turns out that I have plenty more of Ina May's Guide to Childbirth let to read (reading on a kindle makes it hard to gauge how "fat" a book is sometimes). I was told that the first half of the book was about positive natural birthing stories, but in my addition there are several other chapters after that first one. YAY! I love reading her stuff. So, I'm currently on the chapter appropriately titled, "The Law of Sphincters." Haha, which immediately makes me think of Wayne's World, but her law of Sphincters is actually so perfect in describing the mechanics of natural childbirth and a woman's body.

So, unlike the standard US Medical rule of thumb for hospital births- which is to provide medical intervention at the first sign of any struggle on the woman's part to give birth - taking it as a sign that her body isn't built for child bearing (I'll have to look back and quote Ina May's term for this)- Ina May goes by the Law of Sphincters instead. What does that mean? This law of birth for her is wonderfully described, because  I think anyone can relate and understand (male or female). First, a sphincter is a muscle (group of muscles? I'm not an anatomy person)- that controls the passage of things out of your body (urine, excrement, and of course babies). Ever noticed how you can't pee if you are in an uncomfortable place? Or how you can't poop if you're in an uncomfortable place? Haha. Well the same goes for using the sphincter muscles during child birth.

All of these muscles are naturally in a flexed state, and only relax when they are active to release whatever it is you are trying to release. If you can't pee or take a dump with a stranger standing over you, does that mean your body is not equipped to pee or poop? Of  course not. There is a psychological, emotional, mind-body connection that is very real, and I'm sure that everyone can relate to that. There is nothing wrong, or "not working" with our bodies, we are just not in the right mindset, or comfort zone to relax those muscles. This is the same with childbirth. Doesn't that make so much sense? I feel like her law of sphincters should be more commonly practiced in all birthing situations in the US, however unfortunately the mind-body connection is primarily ignored and the woman's body is seen as ineffective. Because most women (or men I would assume) can't relax being strapped on her back, denied food and water (ice chips only), with a catheter put in her urethra, most times pumped with IV fluids, drugs, and having strangers coming and going, in an uncomfortable hospital gown, under florescent lights and given the pressure to hurry everything along to stay on schedule.

I know that natural birth isn't every woman's choice, and I respect that. I know that natural birth isn't an option for all women who choose to go the natural route either, and no way of giving birth is any "better" than the other. They all bring the joy of life, and can be extremely special for each of their own moments and reasons. I just hope that more women, especially in the united states would educate themselves on their options, and trust their bodies to do what our bodies have done for hundreds of thousands of years. Our bodies are not broken by default, and our feelings and minds are just as important as our bodies in our birthing process, and in our lives. We are amazing creatures, and yes, We can do it! xo

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