Recently I finished reading (and reviewing) the new book Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy & Birth. In the opening chapter, they identify a concept that I have *felt* for some time, but hadn’t really put a finger on. The authors refer to it as a “climate of confidence” and a “climate of doubt.” I love this way of articulating the messages swirling around pregnant women in our society.
A Climate of Doubt comes from “The media’s preference for portraying emergency situations, and doctors saving babies, sends a message that birth is fraught with danger. Other factors, including the way doctors are trained, financial incentives in the health care system, and a rushed, risk-averse society, also contribute to the popular perception that childbirth is an unbearably painful, risky process to be ‘managed’ in a hospital with the use of many tests, drugs, and procedures. In such an environment, the high-tech medical care that is essential for a small proportion of mothers and babies has become the norm for almost everyone…[a] ‘climate of doubt’ that increases women’s anxiety and fear.”
A Climate of Confidence “reinforces women’s strengths and abilities and minimizes fear. Some of the factors that nourish a climate of confidence include high-quality prenatal care; healthy food and time to rest and exercise; a safe work and home environment; childbearing leave; clear, accurate information about pregnancy and birth; encouragement, love and support from those close to you; and skilled and compassionate health care providers.”
I encourage my birth class clients to consider ways in which they can create a climate of confidence in their lives as they prepare for their births and their babies.