Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Do you belive in a Pain Free Labour?

The study of belief systems is a fascinating one. Some people will believe just about anything. Modern society today believes that labour contractions will cause pain. Why? Who does this belief system benefit? Certainly not the women in labour.
The British philosopher Jonathan Glover compares belief systems to floating boats. It is almost impossible to change them all in one go, as it would be to alter the boat significantly all at once. It has to be done slowly so as not to disrupt the stability of the boat which could cause it to sink.
Our society has known about pain free labours since the 1940s when my hero, Dr Grantley Dick-Read, first published his book Childbirth Without Fear. The hypnobirthers, who have based their teachings on Dick-Read's book, have been preaching against painful labours ever since. Yet we still will not believe. 
Religion is a belief system that is based solely on faith. There is no proof that any so called Gods exist and yet millions of people continue to believe. This is because people want to believe, they want a sense of belonging and a hope that there will be something better when our time here is done. If you believe in a Christian God then you must also believe in Allah and Zeus as there is no more evidence that one exists at the exclusion of the other. We take our comfort where we can.
The bible has been altered and translated over many years. It is unlikely that it bears any resemblance to the original script. And yet we choose to believe. If in a thousand years from now the only books left in existence are the Twilight books then people will believe in vampires, they will be watching out for the 'sparkly ones'. To be honest, I know some people in Manchester who believe firmly in 'sparkly ones' and will be seen as disciples in that distant future. You know who you are.
If women today suddenly started to believe that labour contractions were not designed to cause the sensation of pain during a normal labour then chaos would ensue. The boat would start to sink. Health services would not be prepared for women demanding a pool birth to aid their relaxation. Did you know that Oxford, England has only two birthing pools to offer where as Cambridge England has eleven. Just shows where the really clever people are.
A harmful belief that is not backed by science or logic is really not worth holding onto. If painful labours were scrutinised carefully then it would be found that uterine smooth muscle is perfectly capable of contracting without causing pain. I could not find any research into the workings of smooth muscle that proved it was designed to cause pain whilst contracting. And yet we believe. 
The only people who benefit from keeping labour painful are men. It is the last vestige of control that they have over us. It would take a really good philosopher to understand all the myriad of reasons as to why we have not yet broken free of this often crippling belief.
All it takes is to believe. The truth.