Living in Horticultural Time in an Industrial Society
One of the first questions we typically ask a newly pregnant person is, “When are you due?” We ask this question as if babies are somehow on a timer. Time and birth are incredibly related in our society.
Firstly, a wide body of scientific research reveals that there is no clear consensus on what triggers labor to begin. Your baby, your placenta, the readiness of your body, and possibly environmental factors all play a role. Secondly, there is a five week window in which it is considered totally normal to birth a baby (37-42 weeks). Some babies are born before and after this time without complications. Thirdly, due dates are misleading because there is great variability in menstrual cycle length among women.
Time and Birth: Birth Happens in Horticultural Time
Pregnancy and birth are natural and organic processes that often defy the industrial concept of time. Horticultural time refers to the time things happen according to nature. But you’re thinking, we live in a modern world! This is true, but you can’t take the animal out of the human body and put it on a clock and expect it to comply.
Firstly, living in horticultural time means living in harmony with the biology of living things. For example, this includes plants, the seasons, life cycles, growth, and death. Also, time and birth is conditional. A variety of factors contribute to growth patterns.
In horticultural time:
- a variety of factors can influence growth
- everything moves slowly and rhythmically
- we live in harmony
- natural differences are allowed
- we support the idea that birth unfolds in unique ways
- we support the harmony between mother & baby through rhythms of hunger, sleep, growth, and change
In industrial time:
- we base progress on the clock and calendar
- information is based on exact calculations and numerical values
- things move quickly and are unchanging
- we view due dates as exact science
- information is based on exactness, technology, and systems
- babies are placed on a timeline for feeding and development
“When our body begs us to slow down during pregnancy, when we realize we cannot predict the exact date of our birthing, when after birth our baby needs us to be in harmony with his or her rhythms of hunger and sleep and growth and change, we are being asked to become more intimate and in tune with horticultural time.” Source: Mindful Birthing by Nancy Bardacke, CNM (2012) Check out her amazing website here!
What do you believe? How do you align your pregnancy and birth with your personal beliefs about time?
Firstly, you have to decide what you believe in. Every birthing family is different. Many families find that a mixture of both systems supports their pregnancy and birth. Your birth doula can help support you in making choices to fit your vision for your birth. Decide where you stand and determine your vision.
Secondly, consider how your choices relate to your belief in time and birth. Are you anxious about going past your due date? Are you someone who needs numbers and statistics to reduce your anxiety? Do you want to learn more about your baby’s growth and development? Or, are you okay with flexibility and going with the flow? There is no right answer, only the one that is right for you.