Tuesday, June 12, 2007

For Pete's Sake

"Michael had to explain how a woman behaves in labour. It was funny that a bunch of men explained what to do."

Folks, I like Angelina Jolie. I know she catches a lot of flack for so many things: the adoptions, the marriage-wrecking, the tatoos, Billy Bob Thornton, etc. But I admire her independent streak and her willingness to create a non-traditional family.

And yet, Angelina, what a mis-step to let men tell you how to behave in labor.

I am probably not the only person who loathes the way labor and birth are usually portrayed on TV or in the movies. Even women directors and actors perpetuate the myth that laboring women scream, curse at their husbands, and have nary a hair out of place at the end of the day.

Of all the births I've attended, only a few involved raised voices. Those were the unmedicated mothers at the moment of crowning. Certainly not the terrified yelps and endless hoopla that the media portrays.

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Blogger kristina said...

Maybe the women didn't scream because you were there! :)

New doula business idea: consultants on the movie set helping actresses portray birth realistically. What do you think?

11:19 AM  
Blogger doulicia said...

I love the consulting idea!

11:39 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

What's wrong with being loud? Shouldn't we care more about the portrayal of laboring women laying flat on their backs with no choices or control over their births? I think a woman being vocal during her labor is the last thing we need to worry about. If I stub my toe, I yell. If I am in labor and it hurts more than anything I've ever experienced before, I scream. It made me feel better. Was that wrong? Did I do it wrong? Did I perpetuate the "myth" that women actually make noises during labor and don't sit quietly in a corner breathing in complicated patterns? The reason women are taught to labor quietly is so that they will be "allowed" to have a natural labor in a hospital setting. It is what opened up the door for them to be awake and undrugged durring labor and birth. But aren't we beyond forcing women to be silent in labor by now? Or suggesting that they did it wrong if they were not silent?

4:10 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

I've been telling my daughters forever that tv and movie labors are nothing like the real thing. And 3 unmedicated deliveries and I've never sworn at my hubby.

11:16 AM  
Blogger Nevanna said...

I cried between contractions. Not because it hurt, but because I had been awake for 36 hours straight and I always cry when I get that tired. I also recall saying "I can't" about a billion times, and then continuing anyway. (:

5:47 PM  
Blogger doulicia said...

Jennifer, I couldn't agree more. The whole portrayal of women in labor is flawed, not just the noise piece.

And to clarify, I have no objection to women making all the noise they want in labor. I myself was very vocal in labor. Loud is great if that's what the woman needs. I remember a midwife commenting to a childbirth ed class, "It is very interesting to see what your cervix has to say in labor."

I just distinguish between the vocalizing I have observed in labors and what is stereotyped in media. They are very different. Real labor vocalization includes growls, bellows, high whines and moans. It can sound fierce, sexual, tortured or ethereal. It seems in media it is always the same: weak and fearful. Some labor vocalization is that, but certainly not the majority.

10:31 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...


Thanks for clarifying. I totally agree with you about the media's portrayal of women in labor. It is completely unrealistic.

9:41 PM  
Blogger Azuroo said...

The sad thing is, most women believe what they see about birth in movies and on TV. When I was pregnant, I was part of one of those due date clubs on a message board, and many of the women there were terrified of birth. They didn't read any books, their OB's told them no important information, they only knew what they'd heard horror stories about or had seen on TV and what their hospital birthing classes told them. It drove me crazy. All of them either had scheduled c-sections or epidurals, I was the only one who had a natural birth. The movement to take birth back definitely needs to include changing how birth is portrayed in the media.
By the way, my cervix certainly had a lot to say during labor! My husband jokes that I sounded like a goat...

11:03 AM  

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