Thank you everyone for sharing your views and stories. It has been interesting and a little challenging for me to read these replies. I come in peace and certainly without judgement. But I hear and acknowledge the anger that my post has triggered.
I did set out to write an opinion piece. I thought it would be an interesting and useful exercise. Where better than nappyvalleynet?
The first thing I want to clarify is that this was NEVER a diatribe against Necessary intervention. We are ALL grateful for medical support where and when it is necessary. If I had ever really needed intervention in any of my birth journeys. I would be deeply grateful too for the obstetricians and midwives who supported me. That is a given. Thankfully the genuine need for emergency care is actually very low. So there is no need to defend necessary intervention. We are all on the same page. This post is about blanket intervention - especially un-necessary intervention and related - the institutionalised fear of childbirth.
Yes I also agree that we are more than just mothers. Absolutely. We are women (people even) with full ives and narratives. This post is about childbirth.
I am biased. I accept that. I am an advocate for PHYSIOLOGICAL birth because physiological birth is disappearing; because it is no longer the normal way to birth. It is becoming more and more acceptable, and even preferable, to move away from physiological birth in favour of the new clinical birthing model. In favour of intervention. Is that a good thing?
My opinion is that it is not.
Humans are mammals. We are the only mammals that birth in this clincial way. The mammals we care for; our dogs and cats, we don't take them to laboratories, tie them to monitors, inject them with chemicals and observe and record their progress. - but we seem happy to do that to ourselves.
Modern obstetric birth with its obsession with control and monitoring, procedures and general clinicalisation has made physiological birth so much more difficult for healthy low risk women. IN hospital birthing all births are considered risky. There is no such thing as a no-risk woman in obstetrics. Because hospital birth is the new normal; Physiological birth is inherently compromised. Even the wonderful home from home units which do their best to support women, and enable gentle physiological births, are strictly bound by tight protocols which midwifes MUST adhere to or risk losing their jobs.
Without action the future of childbirth as a powerful spiritual life-event will be replaced by the future of childbirth as a series of clinical procedures to 'SAFELY" deliver the child. Maybe be one day machines will be deemed more reliable than human hands at delivering babies with minimal risk. Already our HCPs trust the monitor more than the midwife to accurately record your babies heart rate during labour.
I am a c-section mum myself. My first born was delivered by c-section. I did my best to labour but I was not prepared, and I struggled; I lost confidence in my body; My baby was breech and I was advised again and again that c-section was my best route. In NO way do I value that birth journey LESS than my three homebirths because it was a section. But that does not mean I wish for the rest to be c-sections. And the Vbac experience at home was deeply empowering - especially when my obstetrician had warned me against such foolish behaviour putting my baby at risk. To birth normally when you have been told you cannot is an eye-opening experience.
This can never be a question of either... or. It's just not that simple. Polarising is not the answer.Even though I take a position, I have NO intention of polarising. The opposite is true. I want us to come together to have an open honest conversation.
My wish is that every woman who chooses a physiological birth is fully informed, empowered and prepared to give it her best shot; protect herself and her birth from un-necessary intervention, stay home as long as she can, prepare her partner to support her in the way she needs, hire a doula and go into labour with her eyes wide open. Then she is in the best possible place to close her eyes and let go into teh the experience with confidence and trust.
Even then birth is unpredictable. Babies get stuck, waters break, meconium appears, labours stall, time runs out... but if that woman has done and given her best, she will be at peace.. even grateful for intervention. There will be no shame; no disempowerment and no regret. That is my wish.
Happy Valley, thank you for your feedback. I hear you. It took me a few years to heal the scar of my first birth experience and my naive and disappointed expectations which is why I have such compassion for those who set out to birth physiologically and then end up with the cascade of intervention.
We all get the births we re meant to have. We all learn something along the way. We are all touched and moved in some significant way. No one needs to judge anyone least of all themselves. It took me a few years to learn that lesson but its well and truly learned. To me ALL pregnant and birthing women are to honoured on this journey to motherhood. In NO WAY do I seek to undermine or under-value women who choose or end up with intervention.
I have spent 15 years working with women in childbirth both as an educator and a doula. In that time I have heard hundreds of birth stories, attended tens of births and witnessed the IMMENSE POWER and VULNERABILITY of ALL women on their birth journeys IRRESPECTIVE of the path they take. I have seen the STRONGEST of women after DAYS of labour finally acquiesce to a C-section whilst others have easily given birth just because their mothers did before them and their bodies birth well. Or the baby's in a great position. Or their pelvic inlet is broad and spacious and enables good descent.
Intervention is the new normal. In spite of doulas, yoga teachers, birth educators, hypnobirthing teachers and community midwives who all collectively do their best to empower and prepare and advocate. Unfortunately it's not enough to stem the tide of intervention
Thats why I advocate for physiological birth. To stein the tide - if possible - and to enable those who do want to give physiological birth a go to be as infomred and supported as possible so that they go in with their eyes wide open. Not like me.
Small community-based voices (like mine) reminding women that their bodies know what to do; that it might be wise to question blanket and restrictive policies around the unique and specific situation of the birth of your child; that you can ask to be monitored daily instead of induced if there is no genuine medical reason for induction - and other such empowering messages are DROWNED out by the voice of the maternity health system as soon as you express a wish to be outside guidelines.
I hope I have clarified my position a bit more so as not to upset those who either choose or end up with intervention.
What is interesting to me is the discussion around what is perceived as necessary intervention. If you agreed to intervention that you did not plan to have, I am interested to know why? What changed? Did you feel supported in your choices? Informed? For those of you who experienced intervention; what did you learn from it? I want to hear the positive and negative stories from women. What would you do differently - if anything?
In the spirit of non-judgement I would love to hear experience and explore this conversation further.