In Malloy’s 2011 piece, Waiting to Inhale: How to Unhurry the Moment of Birth, she examines ways to slow down birth in an effort to identify and prioritize some of the other processes that are happening at the same time. Her piece opens with a wonderful quotation:
“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. The mother is something absolutely new.”
While this piece focuses on a particular moment in birth, the 1-2 minutes between delivery of the baby and the mother’s first embrace, there are many lessons to be learned from Malloy’s call to “unhurry” birth. Her piece provides physiologic and evolutionary explanations for slowing down those moments immediately following birth, allowing the baby to fill it’s lungs with oxygen and receive the final blood transferred from the mother’s placenta, and allowing the mother a moment of recovery from the work of pushing her baby out before physically reconnecting with her baby. Surely though, this idea of slowing down can be applied to other moments in pregnancy and birth as well.
Recognizing that the process of labor and birth is part of the process of becoming a parent (as is described in the quotation above), might help to answer the “what’s the hurry” question. I’ve written about how a “slow” or “stalled” labor can contribute to subsequent interventions (labor augmentation, or Cesarean birth), and how changing (and slowing down) our expectations for cervical change could decrease the use of Pitocin to augment “slow” labors. As I discussed here, if we could change our expectations of labor to look less linear and more hyperbolic (slower in early labor, gradually gaining speed as labor progresses), it could significantly decrease labor augmentation and unnecessary C-Sections, helping us to unhurry birth.
How else can we unhurry birth?