The Hackney Doula on Comment is Free: fear, fear everywhere
Not satisfied with jabbering on here at Hackney Doula HQ, I was asked to respond to the last week’s Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ proposal that, amongst other things, suggested more births should take place outside of a hospital setting and be led by midwives.
You can read my Guardian ‘Comment is Free’ piece here.
Taking a very deep doula breath I waded in to the comments and found, unsurprisingly, that the fear and anger I was talking about were very evident.
That a piece essentially in support of informed choice and better antenatal education and support was received so badly by many makes me feel even more strongly that the UK (and indeed most of the world) isn’t doing its population any favours. The way we educate young people and those trying to conceive or already pregnant about the birth process isn’t working.
Let me be clear: I don’t think homebirth, birth centre or midwife-led birth is right for everyone. I don’t think ‘pain-free’ birth is something to expect, aim for or be smug about. I support women who want to do things in a different way to me (not just in a ‘hey I’ll get behind that’ kind of way, but in a ‘I’m here beside you while we make it happen’ kind of way) and would never belittle the experiences many have had that lead them to be steer away from a midwife-led birth.
Nevertheless I do think it’s time to begin supporting people as they become adults so that they learn about birth in a way that isn’t frightening. So that they are aware of options, know exactly why and how a relaxed, intervention free birth is possible and have a positive relationship with their all-too-often hated bodies.
Most people I work with don’t already know about how their hormones work during labour or what things maximise the release of these and what could hinder it. They aren’t aware of how place of birth and those around them could have a big impact on this or indeed how conitnuous support during labour is proven to decrease intervention rates. This isn’t ‘natural birth speak’ it is scientifically proven and no one tells us about it.
Bookshelves abound with volumes that can tell you the above and the internet is positively groaning with information. But if you don’t know to look for it or are too frightened to research your options you can last your whole life without knowing the most important things about birth. Things that, whether or not you choose to birth at home or on a labour ward, will help you feel at the helm of your birth and could lessen the risk of interventions that many want to avoid for emotional and health/safety reasons.
So, shoot the messenger if you will, but until something changes I’ll be banging on about birth!