Monday, November 05, 2012

The Language of Birth

I've been meaning to go through all my draft posts that for some reason or another never made it to the light of day. Several of them were worthless, like a couple of sentences started and never finished. Then others were fully written but never published and I don't know why.

Below is one such post, which upon re-reading I think is still good. It was written while I was pregnant with Lolly. It's about the language of birth.


Me several months pregnant with Lolly
I'm re-reading the birth stories in Ina May's Guide to Childbirth to give me some encouragement while I wait for the arrival of little Spooce. Ina May comments at one point that early in her career she felt free to change some of the words surrounding childbirth, the main one being her change of the word 'contraction' to 'rush'. Marie Mongan does the same in her book HypnoBirthing, changing 'contraction' to 'surge'. I'm sure many others have done the same.

I agree with what they've done. As a graduate in English, I recognise how much language affects our thinking and perceptions. Ina May says it doesn't make sense to use a word that implies tightening, when the purpose of contractions are to open and thin the cervix. While I still call them contractions myself - calling them rushes or surges just sounds too contrived for me, though I think they are perfectly acceptable to use as long as they make you comfortable - I think it's really important to use words that don't negatively affect you psychologically.

I'm thinking of this, because at my last ante-natal clinic, the midwife was on the phone with the hospital scheduling an appointment for me, and she referred to me as 'the woman who was very keen to have a home confinement'. (For the record, I'm not having a home birth now; I will be going to the hospital's midwife-led unit.) The phrase 'home confinement' irrates the crap out of me. Why does the medical community have to turn every phrase into something horrible sounding? Home 'confinement' sounds like house arrest. Why not just simply call it a home birth like everyone else in the world?

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