Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Euphemisms and birthing language

The language around birth is very important. With HypnoBirthing it is all-important since hypnotherapy is an entirely language-based therapy.
in this month's "Practising Midwife", the distinguished midwife Sara Wickham discusses euphemisms such as "pop" - "often preceded by the word just"..."an attempt to soften any number of clinical procedures which are routine but which individual women might not consent to if it was made explicitly clear that she had a choice"
and points out, perhaps subversively, that language which softens ie makes less frightening a procedure might not be bad. "I avoid using medical terms that I perceive as fear-filled (haemorrhage, risk factor) and choose words which I feel to be less hormonally and emotionally upsetting to women (bleeding, challenge).
She prefers calling sanitary towels bunnies - "removes the connotation of dirtiness"
She mentions Ina May Gaskin's rushes for contractions, but sadly not the HypnoBirthing surge...
She might have added that linguistically many of these "less threatening" words are of Anglo-Saxon origin instead of Latin/Greek origin.
Wickham S Euphemisms: good, bad or ugly? (2) The Practising Midwife Vol 12 Number 4 April 2009 page 35
Also refers to Nicky Leap (1992). The power of words, Nursing Times 88:60-61

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