I find myself continuously shocked when I talk to people about birth and I still hear that they don’t know or don’t care about what their birth will be like. When a woman talks about how horrible she fears it will be and why she is just “trusting her doctor” to make the right decisions for her.
When the only book she has ever read about pregnancy and birth is “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”.
The reason I find myself stunned each time this occurs is simple. I am surrounded by people who think the same way as me. My friends in my church community mostly all have home births and my other friends are all in the natural birthing community. We can sit and talk about natural birth with such ease as is always true when you are “preaching to the choir”. You all nod your heads in unison at the atrocities taking place in the, uh, obstetric world.
So when I am face to face with a woman who doesn’t feel the same way about birth as I do, what should I do?
This is the same question I ask myself when facing anyone with a profoundly different belief than mine. Whether is be birth, homeschooling, religion, child rearing, etc.
My first instinct is the educate the poor soul. Help her know the evils of the dark side of birth and flee from the traps of her OB.
Let me just tell you, this doesn’t work. Not on birth and not for any other topic. What I have learned through my experiences, my education as a birth instructor, and unfortunately, just time, is that you are more likely to get someone to listen to you about your beliefs if you listen to hers first.
Sometime this is easy. Maybe she has never thought about it and is eager to learn from you. Often times it can prove difficult and take time. Her beliefs may be so deeply ingrained that you have to peel away layer by layer to ever start laying a new foundation.
But what I believe is the more important aspect of the process is care!
You have to truly care about the person you are talking and listening to. You cannot just want another convert into the natural birth community. You have to think about her and what she really needs. It may be that at the end of it all what she really needs is to do things her way. This might not be her thing. It might not be the battle she chooses to fight. And I have to be okay with that.
I have to remember that she is not me. My choices are just that, mine. Hers and her. We are responsibly for our actions only. I have to answer for my own decisions to myself and she to herself.
I have made many of the mistake of convincing someone to make the choice I would make if it was up to me, not really caring about what they wanted. I end of feeling ashamed when I discover that I have wronged that person in my “help”.
We do need change in the birthing community, but it’s not going to happen by preaching. I will happen when we care enough to listen and love.