Saturday, July 26, 2008

Childbirth: The Ordinary Miracle

Writing a short story wherein the lead character is a pregnant woman, and I stumbled on this article, Childbirth: The Ordinary Miracle by Dr. Gayle Peterson. Perhaps not entirely relevant to what I was looking for, but all the same, it's a moving article.

One key point that Dr. Peterson emphasizes early on is that "the message of our society (presumably Western society in which she writes) is that the experience of childbirth is unimportant."

Dr. Peterson writes:

The experience of pregnancy and childbirth is uniquely female. Not all women give or want to give birth. However women who do give birth whatever the circumstances, are faced with the reality of one of nature's most powerful events. The fact that women can express extremely negative or incredibly positive experiences of childbirth is evidence of the generic power of the experience itself. This most basic fact, that childbirth is a powerful force to be respected, has been lost in the overall devaluation of the feminine in our society.

Women often feel alone with the responsibility of motherhood, even when they have supportive partners. Mothers are criticized quickly when things go awry in childrearing, while their positive contributions go unsung. In fact, many aspects of female development remain invisible to our culture at large. Childbirth is no exception. The message of our society is that the experience of childbirth is unimportant .

I can't speak for the Western experience but my own observations and recollections from where I grew up tell me that that isn't the case in the Philippines. In our environment, pregnancy and childbirth is largely a community experience. Yes, everyone is a nosy busybody, with his or her own guess as to the gender of the child; but that's our way of caring. Coming as we do from our agricultural backgrounds, Filipinos are emotionally healthy about these matters.

This is what is what the contraceptive mentality is destroying, whether directly or indirectly -- by viewing pregnancy as a disease, by holding economics in higher regard, by setting unrealistic standards of beauty.

Ultimately it's a matter of strength of the Filipino psyche is with its community bonds and values whether or not it can withstand the onslaught.