My unreasonable view of the world

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7th January 2015

The best birth possible?

Recently I have really noticed a tendency for well-educated women to shun the idea of a private midwife or a Doula who would ensure the best possible delivery of their first baby (which is more than just a live birth by the way), and insist that they wish to give birth in a local hospital. This is despite the fact that there is much evidence and experience in their peer group to suggest that it may be wise to invest in something more consciously. Even planning a home birth guarantees a better standard of care. There may be some political edge to this decision, similar in a way to ardent parents sending their children to local comprehensive schools, when they know that as individuals they would do better at a private school, that they could well afford to pay for.

The upshot of this recently has been several – probably avoidable – Caesarian sections in the cohort of women that I am aware of having babies recently. I can only speculate based on third party information, but having had 3 children myself as well as meeting many parents while assisting their breastfeeding, and seen what the cascade of intervention does, it has made me very sad. Having a Caesarian section is no light matter, from the health of the mother and baby’s point of view, and from the point of view of the couple’s relationship. What I am sad about is the misplaced trust that new parents have, that should be well placed. I would expect, as they do, that the people who are frequently assisting at births would know a thing or two about working out how to deliver a baby efficiently and smooth out any hiccups in the process, but no, it seems that they greet each mother as if they have never been to a birth before.*

Contrast this with the wonderful bank of knowledge built up by those in Ina May Gaskin’s book Spiritual Midwifery in the US, the Independent Midwives here in the UK, the Doula system where a woman is supported my someone familiar, experienced and reassuring as she goes through labour. I know Jane Jennings, locally in Coleshill, is doing fabulous work preparing parents, and her descriptions of the way that these women give birth is a world away from the clinical extraction that is the norm in hospital.

All this is to say, as my coach said to me on a training day, we pay, one way or another, either in money or in bitter experience. We make our choice and we pay the price.


*A recent story: a third time mother turns up at hospital, she has given birth in under 2 hours before. She is asked a number of questions, none of which is: How many babies have you had? or How long was your previous labour? She is moved rooms, being required to walk while in second stage as the baby’s head is emerging, because they need the room she’s in for someone else, and they don’t realise how far on she is.

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