What I knew about placental birth that my obstetrician friend didn’t…

A couple of years ago, I was sitting in my garden on a summer’s evening with an obstetrician friend. We had just opened a bottle of wine and were settling in for a long chat.

“So,” said my friend. “I have a question for you. What do you know about placental birth as a home birth midwife that I don’t know as an obstetrician?”

Ooooh. That WAS a good question, and I allowed myself a few sips of wine while I pondered it. But I knew the answer within a minute or so.

“What I know that you might not,” I told her, “is that the textbook explanations of why women sometimes bleed after birth and why placentas sometimes take longer to get born are incomplete.”

“It’s not always about physical causes,” I said, “like lack of tone. I’ve seen women bleed and I’ve seen placentas take longer to be born as a result of emotional and social issues. The technocratic viewpoint doesn’t account for that.”

I went on to tell her a few stories to illustrate my point.

I told her about a woman who I sat with in the hospital bathroom for hours while she processed the trauma of her previous birth before finally letting her placenta go.

Then I described Judy Edmunds’ story of the woman who bled when her birth supporters all left the room after the birth of her baby (because they were hungry for soup) without realising that she still needed their support until the placenta was born. Her midwife had to hurriedly call them back.

I shared the story of the woman who needed the cayenne pepper treatment … which in this case had nothing to do with any therapeutic value of the pepper itself, but with the space that cleared for her to birth her placenta when her mother-in-law disappeared off in the car on a midwife-recommended mission to go and get organic cayenne pepper from the health food store on the other side of town. In rush hour.

Evidence is important, but it isn’t enough. We need to learn from stories as well as science. It’s also important that we don’t just take the science at face value and that we’re able to make our own assessment of the value of the results.

That’s what I’ll be focusing on when we welcome participants to our Birthing the Placenta online course from June 14-21. We’ll look at the different approaches to the birth of the placenta, unpack the evidence, consider when active management may be preferable, share our stories and tips for supporting physiological placental birth and talk about why context is so important.

If you don’t know much about the birth of the placenta, there’s a whole introductory section for you which covers some of the basics. If you’re more experienced, then you’ll probably want to head straight to the refreshers of the latest evidence and the smorgasbord of discussions that you can engage in. Wherever you’re at in your learning on this topic, there’s loads to get your teeth into!

This will be the only run of this course in 2019. As in all my online courses, the number of places is limited, so don’t wait til the last minute if you really want to come. If you’d like to find out more or to register, click here for everything you need to know and, if you can’t find the answer there, feel free to hit reply and ask Chris!

I can’t wait to hear your placental birth stories and find out what you know about placental birth that others don’t 🙂

P.S. If you’re more into Gathering in the Knowledge, the next run is from July 5-12.


Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

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