Silent Birth, Not Natural Birth

With lots of attention being brought to the birth practices encouraged by Scientologists, known widely as "silent birth" via the pregnancy of Tom Cruise's (wife-to-be) girlfriend Katie Holmes, I thought I would share my experience giving birth under these practices.

Like Ms. Holmes, I too was first exposed to Scientology and ultimately silent birth, by my baby's father (now my husband). Though irreligious myself, I was wary for a long time of the popular impression of a cult-like group spearheaded by celebrities vacuuous celebrities. Eventually, I understood the intent of the religion was one of self-improvement, and one did not necessarily have to accept the entire religious self-concept if not so inclined. As you might be able to tell, I was not so inclined.

However, when I was pregnant, one tenet of the religion was the concept of Silent Birth. This is popularly misconcieved (and originally by myself as well), of being a natural birth-- no drugs, no painkillers, no epidural, and on top of that, no talking, screaming or yelling! Yah right, was my initial reaction! But after some study (which was prompted and encouraged, I have to be honest enough to say), I understood that silent birth had nothing to do with any of the above, but instead focussed on eliminating extraneous, jarring, alarming and violent noises from the baby's introduction to the world.

This "silencing" of the normal cacaphony that accompanies a birth was intended to ease the baby's transition from the protected confines of the womb into the often-harsh wordly environment. Likewise, it is intended to keep the mother's mood in the right place as well to send the baby off on the right foot. Of course, this is my interpretation of this, and I may not be 100% "accurate" versus what the official religion stance might be. But this all made perfect sense to me and I vowed to follow it to the extent possible.

We discussed the situation with our doctor, who was not a Scientologist by the way, and explained that we'd like to keep the birth theatre as free of noise, commotion and people as possible. He said he had worked with this "constraint" before and found it a superfluous request, as he likewise did not work best under chaotic conditions and would never encourage or sponsor the environment we feared. Seeing as how we were not satisfied by this assurance, he assuaged us some more and said he would comply to the best of his abilities, but that if there was ever any issue involving the health of myself or the baby, he would make no promises. We agreed that that was reasonable.

My labor ultimately turned out to be blissfully short and without excruciating pain-- odd for a first child. Asides from the doctor and a small set of staff, the only other person in the room was my husband, who did not make a peep and communicated his support through squeezes of the hand and facial gestures. The doctor coached me quietly throughout the delivery, and within two hours after the contractions started, my beautiful son was born. I did not end up needing any extra procedures, such as an epidural or a perinectomy, so there were no complications that arose.

And as for my "silence" in this "silent birth"? I was... good. Certainly not silent-- to ask that of a non-medicated woman given birth to her first child seems insane. But I was conscience of the underlying goal to prevent the first memories of my child's life of being frightening and jarring (well, more frightening than it must already be), and like every parent, doing the best I can to make their lives better than my own.

[Edit] Happy birthday to Suri Cruise! The Tomkitten has arrived, and I wish you all the best! [/Edit]
content_mommy content_mommy
26-30, F
8 Responses Apr 17, 2006

What if those aliens try to touch your baby?

I was a teenager w my first two babies. 17 n 18 yrs old I had them 13 months apart, I was a troubled teen. Anyhow w my first I was told to be quite n don't scream because once u lost it u could not come back. I stayed very quite just small sounds 7 hours of natural labor no drugs, episiotomy that's the only time I screamed ( bloody murder) again no drugs. Second baby quite. In my late 20's a husband and a miracle baby, I was told to yell moan chant whatever I wanted that made me feel Better! I had a quite dark semi lighted room. I chanted so loud cause the pain was intense. Oh I failed to mention my second labor was 20 min my 3 rd was 3 days! I fought my doc on the c sec she wanted to give me on day 1. Day 3 natural beautiful labor, my baby on my bare chest!! I love he came into a peaceful environment!!

Well... I learned something. Thanks.

wow...should have tried this for me.... natural birth is very painful. but thanks for sharing :)<br />

Very interesting. I also didn't understand this and it now doesn't seem strange to me at all. Thank you for sharing.

Very interesting. Thanks

Hi there, great story! It's very nice to see such an open and honest perspective on the notion of silent birth, because the media are always so very eager to portray it just as you originally percieved it to be. My girlfriend is currently pregnant and is not a Scientologist as I am. I don't intend to try and persuade her to have a silent birth, although seeing your experience makes me wonder if she might in fact be receptive to the idea in the way that you expressed it - as a way of bringing the baby into the world in as calm an atmosphere as possible. Thanks for your insight :)

Thank you for the education. Like you I am not a Scientologist but when I heard *Silent Birth* after having 2 children of my own, I thought, ignorantly, that it meant no noise at all. And I assumed because of my limited education on this religion that it also meant NO possibilty of medication (epidural) at all. So I thought that it seemed like an archaic thought process, easy for men to agree too, but not necessarily easy for the women giving birth to embrace, especially when it is your first child and there is already a sense of stress that comes with the unknown. Under the description you gave then I would have to say that both my births were *silent* as my husband barely said a word, and not being a *screamer* even when in pain, there was hardly any noise at all in the room. We did not ask for anything special but my ob-gyn is a very quiet man, mild mannered and wouldn't allow non-sense to occur while a child was being born. Unlike you, both my children, due to complications, and after long labours, had to be born via a c-section, so I did have drugs. But prior to the c-sections my labour was quiet and even though they were both born by c-sections there was still very minimal noise. I appluad you for being able to give birth without medication. If my first son was not a c-section, I know with him I would have had an epideral, as the contractions were so intense. As it turned out he was 9 pounds, 9 ounces at birth and was quite literally to big to drop into the birth canal. I'm 5'3 and weighed 140lbs at his birth. Seeing a 9lb 9ounce baby as a new born was like seeing the average 3 month old. Anyway, as usual, I divert. I do have a question for you, if by chance you have the time to answer. It is my understanding (which could be wrong) but I thought Scientologists did not believe in medication. So if you thought you needed an epidural how would your husband have felt? And one more question, Tom Cruise was crucified when he stated that he thought that Brooke Shields was doing the wrong thing by taking anti-depressants for her post-partum depression. Do most scientologist's agree with Tom Cruise's belief, as part of their religion, or was that really just Tom Cruise's opinion and really was not necessarily based on his religion? Perhaps that is really a question for your husband, since he is a Scientologist and sorry one more. If your children need medication would either you or your husband have a difficult time with that decision? As I said please do not feel obligated to answer any of the questions, I can and probably should, educate myself on it, it's not like it would be hard to do, since I am currently typing on a computer ;)<br />
Take care, Trish.