Monday, 25 July 2011

Empowered Birth Awareness Week

Empowered Birth Awareness Week starts on the first Monday in September and lasts for one week, naturally. It is a way of reaching out to women all over the world and empowering them to gain confidence in their ability to bear and birth their children without fear and in a positive manner. This can mean lots of different things to each and every individual woman. The central message is to take control and question everything that health professionals present to you. Research births on the Internet cos there is sooooo much info out there regarding birthing in a way that suits you. If that means you are posh spice and having your gizilienth c section then so be it. If however, you are not too posh to push, then join the Awareness Week available on facebook to push back against the constant creeping shadow that is medicalisation of the birthing process trying to swallow us whole. Join together during Awareness Week and celebrate just how wonderful we women are, sorted.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Past pain free labours 3

During the 1970s and 1980s, there was a social shift to accepting hospital births as a norm, local doctors in the comunity offered a intermediate service which allowed women to be cared for and birth in a GP Birthing Centre. A wonderful midwife who I have worked with for many years, was working at a GP birthing centre during this time. These centres were very popular for low risk women who could attend and give birth with a community midwife they knew well. This was a homely setting which added to the women feeling at ease. During the 18 months Margaret worked there, none of the women she cared for needed any pain relief. They were calm and relaxed and able to move around freely in the company of someone they trusted. Moving around freely and staying upright is an inportant factor with pain free labours as discussed in the post - Staying upright.
Politics have taken natural childbirth away from women today and the GP Birththing Centres have been closed down. We have taught women to fear childbirth by expecting them to attend large medical institutions that can only see childbirth from a medical point of view.
OK, for a small percentage of women who undergo a home birth, transfer into hospital may be required but that should not mean that all births should take place there. Having said that, as a hospital midwife, I have had some lovely births in hospital after teaching mums how to relax in labour discussed in the post - Relax with progressing muscle relaxation. And it has worked a treat. So hospital is not a bad place to have your baby if you have the right support. There should be access to a birthing pool where relaxation is enhanced by the warm water. However, you have to be confident and in control of your labour and insist on staying upright and on having some peace and quiet in order to run through your chosen relaxation method. I always darken the room and make as little noise as possible during a normal low risk labour. You can labour safely in hospital but you will be more relaxed and in control at home. See the post - Home birth - for help in the Manchester England area for help and support in booking a home birth.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Past pain free labours 2

In her book 'Safer Childbirth?' Marjorie Tew outlines the move from mainly home births in the UK to mainly hospital based care and the effects this move had on childbirth. By the 1080s it was generally accepted that a "medical institution" was the place to give birth. Tew explains how this move led to women feeling less self-confident about birth, feeling that control of their bodies had been taken away. In her book Tew describes how women coped who underwent home births before the nationwide move to hospitals - "Having no fear, her body like her mind was relaxed and allowed the automatic processes to be completed with the ease with which other animals reproduce". Tew was obviously aware of the effects of adrenalin on the cervix discussed in Why labour hurts 3, when she stated "The body's response to the stimulus of fear is tension, affecting in particular the circular muscles of the cervix and causing them to resist dilatation. This causes pain and reinforces the vicious circle of fear-tension-pain." 
Reading her book is a little depressing but it is becoming clear why women simply do not believe in a pain free labour. In 1892, doctors were taking over the birth process which in their opinion could no longer be regarded as natural. "Throughout the 20th century, the incessant stream of propaganda has continued to capture public opinion, to make everyone believe that childbirth is fraught with dangers against which only care by obstetricians can protect."
In other words, we have been brain washed for generations. Well, now is the time to WAKE UP and take back control. Childbirth is a big industry, lots and lots of money is invested in keeping women pliant and keeping them in pain so that hospital medical interventions can be justified. If the majority of women suddenly started having low intervention pain free labours, hospitals would be thrown into disaray. Jobs would be lost and the system would have to change big time. People do not like change.
I am not saying that we will never need the services of obstetricians, there are always high risk women who will continue to need their specialised help. I am saying that for the majority of low risk women, there has always been a chance to choose. I chose to go pain free, what will your choice be?