The place, the space, between two people is encompassed in one simple word: touch.
How important is touch?
It can mean affection or abuse. It can mean acceptance or rejection, pleasure or pain or indifference.
Touch to a pregnant woman can be empowering and fulfilling or hurtful and belittling. When a partner touches her belly, does he do it in affection and awe?
Strangers grasping and pawing at a pregnant belly can make a woman feel demoralized - loosing her autonomy. Likewise, loved ones purposefully avoiding her ripe and taut abdomen can spell rejection and and self-consciousness.
Touch with your caregiver can be aggressive, even painful. It can be shaming and degrading. It can also be intriguing and educating, empowering and hopeful.
In birth, touch is just as powerful.
From the strong and solid hands of the doula
To the sure and skilled hands of the caregiver
To the tentative and loving hands of the partner..
Touch makes all the difference.
What types of emotions are equated with negative touch during birth?
I had a hard time having an orgasm after my first birth, in fact, I had to fight the urge to cringe when my partner touched my perineum for quite awhile. I firmly believe it was because of my episiotomy. Even though my episiotomy was needed, it still was a harsh, cold, and invasive touch that marred my self-image and emotional health* regarding my perineum.
I have spoken with many women who have had cesareans and many of those women have similar reactions. It is not the scar itself, but the invasiveness, the abrupt and traumatic touch that leaves things 'other' than what they were intended to be.
I have seen women loved, caressed, joined, massaged, and rubbed throughout their labors - these women literally unfold like flowers to welcome their babies into their arms. These women remember their births as empowering and loving, gentle and awing.
Likewise, I have seen women pushed, prodded, poked, shoved, cut, and held down - and their bodies seize up, wilting in front of the assault. These women remember their births with anxiety, trepedition, anger, guilt, and regret.
Our hands should never be applied to another person in haste, anger, frustration, or dominance. Not in day-to-day, not in our marriages, not in child rearing, and not in child-birthing. Touch should be an intercourse between two people, an interaction speaking affection, understanding, and respect.
Touch is a powerful tool.