POLITICS AND BIRTHING
Wouldn’t it be great if there was no politics in the birthing world? It is probably unlikely to happen anytime soon, BUT I really want people to think before they speak to a pregnant woman!
BORDERING ON ABUSE
?The stories and judgements that many pregnant women are exposed to, can be quite damaging, to her and her unborn baby – yes, they are cognitive and aware little people growing inside. These horror stories are not exclusive to the general public, they come from doctors, especially G.P.’s, midwives, obstetricians, childbirth educators, ultrasonographers, anaesthetists, and even yoga teachers.
A woman is at the peak of vulnerability throughout her pregnancy. A passing comment from a ‘well-meaning’ friend or work colleague, which may normally be dismissed when not pregnant, suddenly becomes all consuming, provoking anxiety and causing her to question her choices. Some comments include:
• Newly pregnant woman enquiring about how to book into a birth centre – “you definitely do not want to go to one of those places. My friend’s baby nearly died in a birth centre and I had my babies in a proper delivery suite, with an epidural, which is the best way to go, so here are 2 names of obstetricians that I recommend” – (this from a G.P.)
• Pregnant woman at first appointment with an obstetrician, she asked – “what is the difference between the private hospital and the public hospital? (they are in same complex) – answer: private hospital is 5 star and public hospital with a midwife is about 2 star, if you’re lucky!”
• Couple at a hospital prenatal class – first night and opening statement from midwife/educator – “7 out of 10 couples in this room will end up with a caesarean section so you better all pay attention when I show you that video”!
• Random person crosses the street to ‘advise’ pregnant woman to just book a caesarean as she had 7 days of labour and then ended up with a caesarean. “Just do it” she said.
• Check-out person in major supermarket tells pregnant woman, (loudly and in front of a long queue) “you just do not know what you are in for – it’s the worst pain ever!”
• Random person asks pregnant woman where she is birthing? Pregnant woman proudly states “I’m having a home birth”, response: “how could you put your baby at risk like that, don’t you know how painful and dangerous birth is?”
• Friend asks where are you going to have baby?, answer “I want a waterbirth so I’m booked into a birth centre”. Friend laughs, in a mocking way, and says “yeah, right”
I could fill another book with these stories. I am often in the position of debriefing women, and giving them their confidence back. None of the above comments are based on knowledge, research, or respect. All birthing women need to own their experience, without criticism or judgement. As for the medical staff? They should know better but they don’t.
FOR THE RECORD!
Pregnancy and birthing is what women are designed to do. The birthing business is full of fears and therefore has become so overmedicalised, it seems almost impossible to normalise birth. A change of attitude is desperately needed. As a community, pregnant women should be placed on a pedestal, to be honoured, congratulated and respected. They are V.I.P’s , who are growing our next generation.
SOME USEFUL AND RESPECTFUL COMMENTS
• Congratulations. Looks like you are doing a wonderful job at growing your baby.
• I hope you are enjoying your pregnancy and getting to know your baby.
• It’s wonderful growing a baby and even more beautiful giving birth.
• Your birthing day is very special, because you get to meet your baby, face to face and that is truly amazing.
• Having a baby at home? Having a baby in a birth centre? – well done on making that choice, you should feel very proud.
So please, think before you speak to a pregnant woman. Is the advice you are about to give based on your own personal experience? Or your cousins? Or what you have ‘heard’?
Do not be opinionated. Most pregnant women do a lot of research before making the best decision for them and their baby. So congratulate her, honour her, and most importantly respect her choices.