Maybe it isn’t even about re-programming belief in our bodies so much as de-programming what we’ve been taught about our bodies, and women in general. Examining some of the negative attitudes and belief systems may help us to separate others realities and theories from our own.
Many of us were raised in a patriarchal system — whether that be from religion, business practices (women paid less), family “values”, or society as a whole. Statements such as women are the “weaker” vessel may have been ingrained in us from an early age (weaker being used in a negative connotation). Certain opportunities or career paths may have been held back, discouraged, or not even possible. Some religious beliefs may have affected how we view modesty, nudity, our bodies, functions of our bodies, our worth as a woman, and more. Being taught that menstruation or giving birth was “unclean” and required quarantine and/or animal sacrifices may have sent a negative message concerning the beauty of birth and our bodies.
This blog is not to debate religion, to criticize belief systems, or to attack any faith. The purpose of this blog is to perhaps highlight how early influences in our lives can skew a healthy view of bodily functions, increase fear and lead us to make choices that may not be in our best interest. If we can be aware of negative messages programmed into us, we can more easily counteract the negativity and believe in ourselves and our bodies. We do not have to accept another entity’s reality as our own.
Compounding the messages we may have received from our parents, churches, religions, schools, society, neighborhoods is the use of certain medical terminology. Terms such as “incompetent cervix”, “failure to progress”, and having a doctor “deliver” your baby sow seeds that foster negative feelings about our bodies. Be attuned to the wording of certain institutions– and discard negative or derogatory descriptions.
- Your body is amazing (not incompetent or a failure)
- You are designed to give birth (not be “delivered”)
- Bodily functions, such as menstruation, birth processes are normal and healthy (not unclean)
- Birth fluids, sensations, noises, smells–the entire process–are part of bringing a new little one into the world
Believe in yourself and your body! Surround yourself with people who believe in you, too. When a negative thought enters your head, repeat a positive one over and over until it crowds out the negativity. Re-program your brain to accept and embrace your strength. You are not dirty! Your body has grown another human! You are not weak; you are powerful, strong, beautiful, and full of life.
Recommended Reading: Birth as an American Rite of Passage, by Robbie Davis-Floyd
All Rights Reserved, 2014, Kimberly Sebeck, CLD, CCCE, Knoxville Doula