“If we consider mammals in general it is an advantage for the survival of the species that labor cannot establish itself as long as the female feels threatened (so she is ready to fight or run away from a predator if necessary.)” - Michel Odent, The Scientification of Love
Warmth. Safety. Privacy. Quiet. Darkness. These five elements help the birthing person feel relaxed and secure which creates the optimal birth environment. Feeling calm and supported allows the body to release oxytocin, the hormone required for labor progression, and endorphins, the body’s natural painkilling hormones, which reduces pain and help with labor progression.
Image courtesy of Kate Carlton Photography
What if we take a designer’s lens and use it to solve something not typically seen as a “design problem”? This is what I aim for as I use my extensive background in design and architecture to help facilitate better birthing experiences for my both my doula clients and my design clients. By advocating for the creation of positive environments that support labor rather than inhibit it, I am rethinking our society’s relationship with where and how new life makes an entrance into the world.
Image courtesy of Debora Silviera Fotografi
My designer’s approach to birth and birth space, including birth centers, health centers and labor/delivery units, focuses on the scale of the individual, the scale of the environment and everything in between. There is much room for improvement - from the archaic design of the gynecological instruments to the dreary hospital gown that erodes your sense of agency to outdated, tethered monitoring devices to the sterility and counterintuitive flow of triage, labor/delivery and postpartum rooms – all have a profound impact on the person bringing new life into the world. Women, and all birthing people, are designed to give birth but thoughtful designed space can make it so much easier to get there.