Thursday, October 7, 2010


Hello Birth Peeps!

For over four decades, our culture has been entrained to take six or more childbirth preparation classes in the third trimester. The focus is on labor. Initially the focus was on relaxation and coping during labor; of late, many classes are no more than an orientation to what to expect in the hospital, management when things go wrong, epidural information, and "choices."

Childbirth classes used to be a "ritual" of childbirth preparation; in recent years the number of women who take childbirth classes has fallen.

Many birth peeps (parents and professionals) feel six weeks is not enough time for parents to un-learn cultural myths and conditioning, and to really embody new beliefs. Waiting until the end of pregnancy doesn't allow time for prenatal nutrition education, making informed choices about where to birth and with whom, and to awaken the Mother-Father archetypes within.

When classes focus on the medical model (whether in support or in-avoidance), the "Patient or Consumer archetype" is awakened--not the nurturing and fierce Mother archetype! My vision of YEAR LONG BIRTH INITIATION includes activities that awaken and strengthen the Great Mother and Father archetypes before the child arrives.

When I envision YEAR LONG BIRTH INITIATION for parents, it is a holistic feast of activities and experiences, friends who gather with elders and mentors. In addition to information would be the maturing of a woman or a couple before they experience birth as a rite of passage and parenting as a new relationship.

So much emphasis is placed on preparation for labor-day, little time is left for preparing for parenthood. Many classes do offer a token childbirth class reunion once after all the babies are born, or perhaps a breastfeeding class--but during the first few months postpartum, most mothers and fathers need much more emotional and social support, as well as information sharing. Even if more postpartum information was given prenatally, new parents aren't ready for it until after they are parenting their own child! So a new standard might include regular meetings for several months after the birth.

Many people like this "idea"... Many know this kind of immersion and ongoing support would really make a profound change in the heart and soul of new parents, and therefore, the culture. So why not just do this? Some of us have tried. But the idea is foreign to all of us, parents and pro's, so entrenched are we in thinking of classes beginning in the third trimester. And the cost. How much would it cost? Is it affordable? And the time investment! People are busy, overworked, and then there's television addiction in the evenings.

Many young people spend a year planning a wedding, making great fuss over that day. So what would it take to make Year Long Childbirth Initiation just something we do in our culture?

During the next week, let's envision a new model of Year Long Childbirth and Parent Preparation, Initiation, and Support. We have to be fearless here. We have to get past all the barriers that keep us complacent with six week classes that are simply not serving our culture.



1 comment:

  1. Pam, I love this idea! i cannot wait to see how your classes pan-out next year, and to follow along with birth peeps. i can see myself doing this in the future. xx cath