“Giving birth to a new life is about so much more than just the moment itself. The power of finding your strength as a woman through birth resonates for the rest of your life. It shapes you as a person, and as a parent.” ~ Gina Sewell
“Childbirth is a time when a woman’s power and strength emerge full force, but it is also a vulnerable time, and a time of many changes presenting opportunities for personal growth.” ~ Annemarie Van Oploo
So, this is kind of weird little post, but I had some fun things to share. I’ve been playing around with Tagxedo and made a Talk Birth image!
And, I learned that this year is the 70th anniversary of the classic Myers-Briggs Type Inventory. I have my online students take this test every session and we compare our results and the overall class dynamic. In celebration of the MBTI birthday, they have cool little wordcloud heads available with your type. Here’s mine!
I like that “intense” is up there at the top of the head. Feels fitting 😉 And, here’s my husband’s!
I also used Tagxedo to make a “strong elephant” for my elephant-collecting mom to take with her on her visit to my grandma!
Bringing it around back to birth though, I also read an article about the potent impact of the language of birth.
So maternity care workers. Words do matter. To you and to all in earshot of you.
I’ve had an interest for a long time in what I call the “lexicon” of birth. As I’ve referenced before, that is what puts the “Talk” in my Talk Birth name! Language is powerful. Language shapes our lives and experiences. Much of the language surrounding birth and women’s bodies is negative or degrading. Think, “trial of labor,” “inadequate pelvis,” “failure to progress,” “incompetent cervix,” “irritable uterus,” “habitual aborter” (yes, that is the name for women who experience multiple miscarriages).
On the flip side, I’ve also read other writer’s critiques of an overly positive language of birth, labeling and mocking words like “primal” as “euphemisms” for hours of “excruciating” pain. But, that makes me think about the locus of control in the average birth room. It seems like it might more difficult to start an IV in a “triumphant” woman, so lets call her stubborn or even “insisting on being a martyr”? Could you tell someone making “primal” noises to be quiet? Probably not, but you can tell someone who is “screaming” to “stop scaring” others. Asserting that a painful and degrading language of labor and birth is “real” English and that the language of homebirth advocates are “euphemisms” is a way to deny women power and to keep the locus of control with medicine. This language is often that which dehumanizes and denies the personhood of the birthing women. And, not only is the language disempowering and also incomplete—I honestly never felt “agonized” or “screamed” during any of my births, so why would I use inadequate words like that in place of my more accurate “euphemisms”?
Some other past posts about language and birth: