Messages about birth at the moment are over-miserable. Newly negative in a way that is troubling.
We’d got clear on it all once – several times to be fair – thanks to multiple maternity reviews and evidence-finding missions again and again confirming birth as safe. And yet all of a sudden and out of the blue, the cultural tide is yanking hard in the opposite direction.
Midwives are no longer permitted to talk about birth as normal; guidance on on how women might help themselves in labour is discouraged; at least once a week, the mainstream press regale us with the inherent danger and unpredictability of childbirth or the naivety/anti-feminism/selfishness of women who’s intention it is to trust their body.
Which makes doulas a precious resource. Along with Independent midwives, our professional autonomy and unquestionable freedom stands as a last little square of neutral space – our guardianship of plain truth, accurate facts and proportionately optimistic support something to prize.
It’s always been part of our job to signpost women to accurate information and to support our mothers with the choices that feel right for them. But with midwives muzzled, and the maternity ‘mood’ growingly bleak, what we offer has never been more important.
Some women will want to birth in the dark dim of their own bedroom; others will want medical options close at hand. But they can only know what is right for them if they are fully enabled to work from their own clean page.
And we can help them with that – showing them how to sidestep all the excessive pessisism and keep their confidence in tact with facts.
Like how amazing their body is to be building a whole human being from scratch. That labour is involuntary, and ‘in hand’ in the same way. By going over, and then over again how labour is an automatic process their body is designed for – a normal physiological need like sleeping going to the loo. It won’t always be easy for them to see it that way, not when they hears someone’s traumatic birth story, or see a terrifying portrayal of birth on the tv. But by digging into the democracy of female biology – understanding the universally in-built programme that is their body’s need to birth, they’ll discover something sound to trust – a safe and solid place true choices can be made from.
Natalie’s book How to Have A Baby – mother-gathered guidance on birth and new babies is out now and available on www.tellmeagoodbirthstory.com
Natalie works in partnership with our Nurturing Birth mentor and doula, Michelle Gerlis – click here to visit her Directory profile