As a childbirth educator and doula, I am amazed by the lack of knowledge that some pregnant persons have regarding their bodies, general anatomy and sex. It's equally disconcerting to see their partners lack of understanding and unfamiliarity with someone with whom they have been so intimate.
The problem stems from the taboo of the topic of sex and body parts, things we only talk about in the dark. There is shame and embarrassment to ask questions. Not to mention, the weird outrage about teaching sex education in school.
This comfort level MUST begin at home with children. Talking about the penis or vagina should be no different than an conversation about the elbow or foot. How else will body autonomy be empowered? How else will agency over our bodies be fulfilled? If we can't even talk about our body parts with the people who care about us the most, we will NOT be able to have these conversations with our physicians later on in life when we need them to listen to us!
Aside from the body confusion during puberty and the teenage years, pregnancy is the next phase of life when the lack of these conversations becomes painfully obvious. There are some birthing people who don't realize WHERE the baby is growing and have never heard of the word uterus. There are few who turn embarrassing shades of red when I am showing cartoon pictures of breasts in my childbirth classes.
When discussing maternal mortalities and morbidities, the care and safety issues can not fully be addressed when individuals just aren't aware of not only the proper words to use but WHERE they actually are in their bodies. For example, all too often, most families have no real understanding regarding the birth of the placenta and the potential dangers this can cause when TIME is not allowed for it to be birthed properly. Knowing the difference between the vulva, vagina and perineum could without a doubt stave off poor pushing techniques during labor. But at the very least, help to ensure proper postpartum care in the event of a tear or the need for an episiotomy.
So what do you do if your parents never went beyond the "birds and the bees"? You sign up for a childbirth class with a professional! I spend weeks reviewing the concepts necessary for an empowered birth experience with a lens towards holistic care and understanding. Nutrition, movement, mental and emotional guidance in the acceptance of the current condition of your pregnant body is essential! How many times have you heard friends and family talk about "wanting this baby out of me" because they are so tired of being pregnant? Knowing the necessity of the development of the baby and critical brain growth periods would have parents saying the opposite!
We know the saying...Knowledge is power!
Parents; arm your children with the power of their body knowledge. Remove the generational trauma of the stigma of talking about their genitals. This does not mean that you can't instill the ideas of protecting these body parts, the more knowledge of them the better the protection!
Grown-ups; learn what you are missing! Become familiar with ALL of you. It will not only lead to a better sex life, but the ability to enhance the quality of your medical care particularly during your childbearing years. But let's not limit it to then, menopause deserves your time and attention as well!
Hope to see you in one of my childbirth classes.
Stay tuned for future classes for grandparents too :)
Certified Childbirth Educator
Doula, Doula Trainer & Mentor