Are We Scaring Women Out Of Childbirth?


A woman, laying on her back, legs in stirrups up in the air, she is screaming in pain with beads of sweat and tears rolling down her forehead. A panicked husband stood by her side, or is that him passed out on the floor? So many doctors and midwives, maybe even a surgeon. Utensils everywhere- ones that look like salad servers, ones that look like plungers and even one that looks like a pair of scissors big enough to castrate Godzilla. There are machines beeping, and a massive shiny light pointing at the mother-to-be’s bits.

Are there talks of tearing or cutting? Maybe even a rush to theatre to cut the baby from her womb? Is there loads of blood? That poor woman. How awful childbirth must be for her? Why would she ever consider going through that? Heck, why would she ever do it more than once?!

Good job it isn’t really like that then eh? 😉 Maybe in a good soap opera or an epic blockbuster. But very rarely in real life. I’m pretty sure of it.

The Stereotypical Birth

But why do we all have this sterotypical image of childbirth? To me it is absolutely horrifying and it really does make me wonder why I did ever chose to do it, not once but soon to be three times. Childbirth is one of the most natural things in the world, yet we have this image of it throwing us into a world of the unknown… and we all know that the biggest thing to be scared of is the unknown.

I was chatting to a lady this morning who wants kids, she is amazing around small people, has a lot of siblings but is not a mother herself yet, she wants to be and they will come soon. Despite her very loving and maternal image (I find her a very gentle and loving human being) she said something that shocked me this morning-  ‘I’m not sure if I can deal with the pain’ and we went into a discussion about epidurals. Actually that’s a lie, I went into a rant about epidurals and the risks that they carry. I’m not against women choosing that method of pain relief and if women believe it truly is the way that they want push a baby into this world, then so be it, I’m not ever going to change their minds am I? But it made me wonder how these women get the idea pop up in their heads, if they cant handle the pain then an epidural is the only way forwards.  Actually I will take this moment to not single out epidurals but include pethidine, diamorphine etc… I think the list may be a lot longer.


Is it because it’s what we see on TV? With programmes like One Born Every Minute (Which is a programme I am obsessed with, and I completely blame that show for the reason that I am preggo again) and even shows such as Teen Mom, we are so used to seeing a woman in labour with a drip firmly attached to the base of her spine. But how often do we see women with doulas, working through their ritualistic breathing techniques, deeply following holistic methods of pain relief such as hypnobirthing? Hardly ever, in fact I can recall seeing a woman use a TENS machine…. once. A TENS machine!

As I approach my 3rd labour, I am starting to learn more than ever. When I had Willow I knew nothing. I was given an induction and pethidine, I was put on a drip to artificially create my contractions and I even gave birth in an operating theatre, on my back. Damn, never again! With Olive, I went into natural labour, only had Gas and Air and delivered her on all fours (a much more comfortable position!). There was only myself, Jay and 2 midwives in the room, The room was dark and silent. It was beautiful actually. And when this baby decides to make an appearance, I don’t even want to be on a bed! Oh, how I have changed! No I haven’t changed, I have developed.  And if I am on a bed, it will be my own, at home. Jay will deliver her with a midwife on hand to watch, completely hands free and naturally.

I had a stranger approach me from my home town of Milton Keynes. We had a mutual friend who didn’t have a very good experience of labour. Her actual words were ‘Its so painful, I’ll never do it again ever. I’d rather DIE’. She had told this stranger (Who was days away from giving birth to her first) the whole ins and outs of this atrocious birth- it was so bad because she didn’t get the epidural that she asked for. Not that she tore or had a haemorrhage, and no forceps or ventouse were to be seen. This young girl asked me what my labour was like with Willow (I was still pregnant with Olive at the time) But instead of recalling how ‘static’ my labour was with her, I told her about the joy and the best bits- like the wonderful skin to skin, and that amazing rush of hormones that you get at the end of it all. I didn’t mention pain or the drugs that I was given. Actually, What pain? What drugs?! 😉 She went on to have a beautiful labour without any pain relief other than just water, delivering her 9lb boy in the birthing pool. Completely unassisted. I firmly believe that if she entered that delivery room with the idea of pain and fear in her mind, her delivery would not have gone the same way at all.

It took me a while to get the stereotypical birth out of my head and think about what happens to us naturally. We need to spend more time educating women not to fear birth but to embrace it and love it and make it our own. We need to show women that there is nothing to be scared of, our vaginas are made to push a baby out and for those ladies who have to have a C Section for whatever reason, that’s fine too. Your body hasn’t failed. But you do still have options, that CAN make the experience more personal for you. We need to stop showing women what is in the hospital store cupboard and show them what is in their souls… a beautiful birthing woman.

So ladies (and gents), lets ditch this image of pain, blood and screaming and lets ditch the passed out husband! Lets welcome our babies into a world of love and emotion.  And most importantly lets stop scaring each other with silly stories!



Hazel Newhouse

Hazel is a mum to 3 daughters and a son, she lives in Bedfordshire with her husband, kids and pets. Hazel has written for various publications, and regularly works alongside popular parenting and gardening brands.

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