Thank you for asking…

thank youA couple of weeks ago, I spotted this blog post, in which a childbirth educator talks very eloquently about how difficult it can be to work in the birth world at this time in history. Sharon Muza describes how so many parents feel bruised, shocked, battered and traumatised by the treatment they receive during their birth experience, and asks if and how we can better prepare them for this.

I’ve been asking myself that question a lot recently, as I write the final chapters of my next book, Twenty things I wish every woman knew about birth. (Yes, I’m still writing it, and the first draft is actually nearly finished, but I’ve been so focused on getting my post-term pregnancy online course up and running that I’ve not had time to mention it recently).

This paragraph particularly struck me:

I wondered what I could have done differently during class to leave families more prepared to navigate the labor, birth and postpartum experience. Am I doing enough? Could I do more? Can I include a different activity that prepares them better? How do I strike a balance to offer them what they need from me as they prepare to birth? How could everyone in this class have come out of their births battered and shocked?

It’s really hard to know the answer to that, and I’m not even sure there IS an answer, especially if, by ‘answer’ we mean a universal solution that can be applied to everyone. Because the notion that there are universal solutions is a part of the problem. Women are individuals. Familes vary. The priorities of one village might, by dint of weather or location or any of a thousand other variables, be different from the priorities of another.

And that’s only one tiny aspect of the problem, which is mammoth. I don’t have the answer either, but I do know that there is value in highlighting the issues, asking the questions and holding spaces for discussion.

To all of you who care and who ask yourselves questions like this, thank you.

7 comments for “Thank you for asking…

  1. Alison Reid
    July 25, 2016 at 7:15 am

    I guess we all need to start telling the truth. That, upon walking through the doors of the hospital, you leave autonomy behind and you have NO IDEA what your caregivers will be like – will they even smile at you? Will they lie to you? Will you be coerced? To me, the only thing that should happen is that every woman have her own personal supporter (doula) or caregiver midwife whom she knows well and whom she can trust. Birth in hospital these days is way too much like a lottery to be conducive to oxytocin production.

    • Anne
      July 25, 2016 at 4:17 pm

      But I had a doula and she abandoned me in the middle of my birth at my hour of greatest need. Doulas are unregulated and hugely variable. They are not the answer.

      • July 26, 2016 at 4:10 pm

        Sorry to hear that you were abandoned by your doula!

    • July 25, 2016 at 6:33 pm

      Hi Sarah. This is a very good article. There ARE ways to help couples. First they have to BELIEVE in what they want.
      Second INVESTIGATE and ASK QUESTIONS on the policies and guidelines of the hospital that are planning to deliver in.
      Too many couples just accept what is said, that is one of the reasons why autonomy does not exist.

      I have programmes to help couples build their confidence and feel more empowered. Working WITH the healthcare professionals.

  2. July 25, 2016 at 6:37 pm

    This is why I like providing private Lamaze classes individualized to the needs of each woman I work with. Each has complex needs that can be difficult to address in group classes.

  3. KamaRama
    July 26, 2016 at 11:15 am

    I have been feeling this a lot lately. Too much to put into words, just wanted to comment and say… my heart is heavy and hurts with the trauma women are left feeling after difficult births (vaginal and cesarean…) I am constantly questioning myself am I doing enough, how can I better help them prepare for a positive, healthy, birth, but also acknowledge and navigate that interventions are quite likely (without freaking them out or actually saying “interventions are quite likely)… I get frustrated and so very sad. And it’s just so multi-factorial. I speak so encouragingly and affirming about how amazing birth can be; how wonderfully our bodies are designed; creating optimal birthing environments; the value of great support and a trusting, respecting relationship with your LMC; so much good stuff! And yes we have to cover medical procedures/assistance too… But I am so disillusioned when we all get back together for mums and bubs and the vast majority have had some degree of a traumatic experience 🙁 I feel like I lied to them! And they feel like they’ve failed!
    Anyways… Thanks for your great work Sara, LOVE it.

    • KamaRama
      July 26, 2016 at 11:16 am

      *CBE in New Zealand

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