a shift

November 12, 2006

I’ve realised that my whole approach to the unborn baby, to birth, even to the newborn, has undergone a fundamental shift in recent months. Perhaps because I am a man, perhaps because of particular social conditioning – but I was inclined to view pregnancy and child birth as quite a clinical scientific process. Mysterious sure, but all the same, it came down to what were the required mechanics of getting a new life on the scene. But now…I think I can probably cite two specific contributions to my change in outlook – reading Leboyer’s ‘Birth without violence’, a work I referred to in a previous post. Leboyer was passionate about restoring the mystery and beauty of giving birth, not so much for the parents’ benefit, but for the child him/herself, and while I’m not really in a position to do a comparative study on its scientific or even psychological merits, it certainly shook up my attitude towards the whole child birth experience. I use the word experience here, because I initially thought of the word “procedure”, and then realised that the difference between the two is precisely the kind of paradigm shift that I am trying to articulate. And if you think all of this sounds just fine coming from the man who won’t have to undergo labour, well, I was recommended this book by A in the first place.

 

The second factor has been what I have learned about the acute awareness of the unborn child, and how much they are already participants in life even while still inside the womb. Before long, our child is going to be able to distinguish the voices of mother and father, and then recognise them after birth. The baby can hear music, and move to rhythm; experience sharp contrasts in light and dark. For some of you reading this, I may be just repeating something you have known about for a long time. I can’t say whether the fact I’m expectant makes this things more wondrous, though it’s likely.

 

All of which increases my sense of awe, respect, incomprehension and joy at this birthing that begins long before the maternity ward.

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