Old School: Bill Cosby & Carol Burnett on "Natural Childbirth"

“Carol Burnett described what labor pains feel like, she said, ‘Take your bottom lip. And pull it over your head.'”

This is from Bill Cosby’s 1970’s stand-up bit on “natural childbirth” (video after jump) in which he riffs on the Lamaze classes of yore: “The second pain hit, my wife said, [Incomprehensible Words] and STOOD UP in the stirrups, grabbed my bottom lip and said, ‘I want morphine! … ”



I was reminded of this video by a dad in my birth class last night.

We were talking about whether it’s a good idea to speak frankly and openly about the possibility that it’ll hurt like crazy. And about how women can feel disappointed or like failures if the specific *method* taught to them in a childbirth class doesn’t work, as was the case with a good portion of women who were taught the old-fashioned Lamaze breathing techniques. Some loved Lamaze breathing methods and, in fact, I know some women, now in their 70’s, who still use childbirth breathing techniques when confronted with pain (a kidney stone, etc). But others felt they were hung out to dry.

The partner is saying, “BREATHE” and she’s like, give me a break. And some drugs. This is why Lamaze and other childbirth education programs today *tend to* teach many ways to cope in labor so that a woman can use what she needs if and when she needs it. Maybe it’ll be a rhythmic kind of repetition of breath or words or counting (like old school Lamaze). Or maybe it’ll be getting in a tub or tireless foot massaging from a loving partner between contractions. Maybe it will be drugs. Maybe it will be all of these things at different times.

Maybe not everyone agrees with me on this point but I think it’s a fine idea to talk openly about pain. But I do talk about it in a way that also emphasizes mom’s strength, all that she can do to cope, and how much the people and environment around her make a HUGE difference (it’s not all on you, mom!).

But really, what I love most about this video is how he makes fun of “intellectuals” who need to take “a class” and read books about this supposedly “natural” process. I am definitely the butt of that joke!

What do you think? Do people talk about pain in labor in a way that makes you feel informed and empowered? Or just flat-out scared? Or a little of both?


Article Posted 7 years Ago

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