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Language Of Labour

By Ashleylister @ashleylister
The jewel of the north (and in fact the whole of Lancashire) went into Tier 3 Lockdown at midnight. But however depressing that is, don't be misled by the title of today's post. I'm not delivering up another party political rant against irresponsibility or incompetence. Apart from anything else, I think my take on Boris and his shifty crew is well known.
Instead, we're following the signs to Maternity for this Mind Your Language blog, for what may turn out to be an edgy, but I hope humorous, look at the phenomenon of expletive-laden language on the labor ward. 
Giving birth would seem to be one experience that can surely provoke even the most cultured and refined of women, in extremis, into uttering strings of obscenities. Midwives of my acquaintance assure me they have heard everything, have grown industrial-strength ears, nothing surprises them after a while - but even some of what they recounted is a bit too graphic for repeating here. So relax, gentle readers, you're getting the selectively sanitised version in the Saturday blog.
Before we push on through those swing-doors, you may be asking yourself (if you're a woman) what could possibly justify a man writing about this topic. Or you may be questioning (if you're a man) why a bloke would even consider writing about such things. Really? This is an interesting phenomenon and part and parcel of all human life.
I should, however, issue a short disclaimer: nothing that follows was experienced intimately by me at first hand. For although I was present for the entirety of my then wife's labours (two of them), and they were amazing and emotional experiences, she just wasn't rude at all. Noises emanating from other rooms suggested she was an exception.
We men had been warned at ante-natal class that our partners might resort to language when in labor that they didn't normally use, might say things they didn't really mean. We were also congratulated (was she teasing?) by the jolly West Indian midwife for attending the class on a night when England was playing Paraguay in the World Cup - 18th June 1986 at the Azteca Stadium, Mexico City. We all forwent England's 3-0 victory to be told, in terms we couldn't fail to understand, that giving birth was "like shitting a football". We were prepared. 
My first-born arrived exactly a month later. My wife was brilliant, but exhausted. My daughter was beautiful. It was the first time I'd cried since I was a boy. But this really isn't about us.
Let's enter that labor ward, and within it eventually the delivery room, the sharp end and  terminus of an incredible nine-month journey for mother, partner (optional) and baby.

Language Of Labour

Everything is going to be fine.

I believe it's every woman's right to give birth in the way she feels is best for her and the baby. Unless a C-section is advised or demanded, there's only one way that baby is coming out. It's clearly a physically challenging process - not called labor for nothing - and appears to be getting more daunting with each generation. By which I mean the "football" would seem to be getting larger as living standards improve. When I was born at full term, I weighed 6lbs 2oz, considered fairly normal in the 1950s. By the 1970s the average birth weight had increased to 7lbs 4oz, and by the millennium 9lb babies were quite common. 10lb, 11lb and 12lb babies are not unheard of these days, the record apparently being 12lb 12oz - that's more than two of me! Ouch!
From what I remembered being taught and with a spot of judicious online revision, there are three distinct phases of labour, latent, active and advanced. It is in this advanced stage, sometimes also called transition, as the baby's head engages for its rite of passage, that everything might begin to seem a bit desperate and the air can possibly turn blue. I quote here from the Womanual:
"During this phase, women often experience physical symptoms such as shaking, nausea and vomiting. An obvious change in emotional state is witnessed, as many women feel overwhelmed and out of control. Women often state that they can't cope, want pain relief, and they've had enough and are going home"....and the worst is still to come.
It's not uncommon for women in distress in the painful final throes of childbirth to shout and swear seemingly without constraint in response to what they are going through, for bastard and bugger, shit and fuck to resound with a passion around the delivery room, for men and babies to be royally cursed, for sex to be sworn off eternally, for threats of castration to be uttered, for demands to be made that the whole taxing process should be stopped right now, even for medical staff to be verbally abused. It's the language of labour, spoken in the heat of the moment, and all in a day's work.

Language Of Labour

Just get the fucking thing out!

Here finally, new born of the imaginarium, an experimental birthing poem in which he do the delivery room in different voices. It's very much a work-in-progress and it remains to be seen whether I'll ever have the balls to perform this one in public!
Giving Birth In A Time Of World CupWhat's the score?Eight centimetres dilated. We're allfootball mad in here. Got the final on the radio next door. Come on!Oh god, I don't want to do this anymore!It's too bloody hot in here Mum.Can I get some air?You're doing well love. We need it warmfor baby. Have a sponge down.This your first one? He's a little footballer. Been kickingshit out of her for months he has.He shoots, he scores. Push down girlwhen you feel those contractions.What the fuck? I've never letting Bobbyknob me ever again, the bastard.I'll cut the bloody thing off! Ow!Make it stop. I'm not having another one.They all say that lovey. Not long now.Bugger me it hurts. Why do we do it?Hello ladies. How's everything looking? Fully dilated doctor. Cervix is ripe,head engaged, England still winning too. I feel like fucking snatch of the day here!This is bloody killing me. Make it go away.No? Should have seen that one coming.For fuck's sake! How much longer?Extra time being played. It's too much. I'm going to wet myself.This is a bloody disgrace. Ow shit!You're doing well. Here come's baby's head. I'm being stretched to buggery, Mum!Bastard Shit! Bastard Shit! I can't do it.Yes you can. Listen to those cheers.One last big push, we're nearly there.Bloody hell. Bastard bloody hell.Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck! Aaagghh!They think it's all over! It is now...Stacey girl, I'm so proud of you.Here's your little world cup winner.Are you fucking kidding,you pair of jokers?You're right there, lovey. We'll have you in stitches soon.Oh you darling boy. So beautiful.I'm going to call him Alf.

Thanks for reading. Stay safe, S ;-)

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