Birth… what it is and what it isn’t

[heading type="h3" margintop="28px" marginbottom="28px" bordered="no" align="right"]"In the name of promoting the safety of birth for mother and child, pregnant women have been persuaded in the course of the 20th century to comply with an ever wider range of medically organized regimens, procedures and treatments.  Many of these are inconvenient and disagreeable and, when they are tested, few are found to provide the promised benefits without counteracting disbenefits, which implies that most could be abandoned without prejudicing safety or satisfaction."  ~Marjorie Tew, Safer Childbirth?[/heading] [heading type="h4" margintop="28px" marginbottom="28px" bordered="no" align="eg. left/right/center"]Birth...[/heading] [heading type="h5" margintop="28px" marginbottom="28px" bordered="no" align="eg. left/right/center"]It isn't about [color]"evidence-based."[/color][/heading]  Evidence based information allows us to make more statistically oriented decisions for our births.  In most cases, evidence-based practices are WAY better than the routines provided by many of today's providers.  However, what we also need to remember is that many of these evidence-based practices are from studies of women that are not experiencing unhindered births... some of them aren't even accurate!  Wow, how amazing birth is, right?!  We can still mess with it, and it mostly goes well...  but should we?  For instance, the "average" length of labor for first time moms is based on moms experience some form, if not many interventions.  How many moms would actually have that long of a labor if there wasn't so much fear, so many vaginal exams, and so many labors started too soon?  How many moms would "need" cesarean and augmentation and suggestions for positions (which absolutely happen in supported home births ALL the time)!  Do we know?  No, we don't.  So, we need to be flexible when reading the statistics.  Just knowing statistics doesn't look at this one woman... family... in this one situation.  Share the information, absolutely, and also share experience and love and support.  Let her decide how she interprets the Benefits, Risks, and Alternatives... but don't forget the ever important [color]INTUITION[/color] and nothing part of those [color]BRAIN [/color]questions.  Most of these studies never show any alternatives and this is something women just have to learn along the way.  There are many birth advocates that don't even believe in the "alternatives."  That doesn't mean a mother doesn't have the right to make her own decision about them.

[heading type="h5" margintop="28px" marginbottom="28px" bordered="no" align="eg. left/right/center"] It isn't about [color]"safe."[/color][/heading]  What?  What do you mean it isn't about safe?  Well, let's see... when one woman's idea of "safe" is a routine cesarean after cesarean (RCAC) and another woman's idea of safe is an unassisted/free birth after cesarean (UBAC) - and you get every variation in between, you have to step back and realize you can't make others' decisions for them.  Provide information and LET. IT. GO.  Someone's birth is not your business to conduct simply because of your own personal fears of what may (or may not) happen to their family.  Why are you taking this so personal?  Would you want someone to tell you how to mow your own lawn?  Well, I guess people do buy into that in some communities...  Would you want people to tell you how to enjoy your partner?  All you can do is be a beacon and then let someone else experience their own journey.  When the information is flying from every direction and mothers don't know who to believe, you bet your bottom they're going to believe the one that says "Here, let me take care of you."  Is it really any wonder why so many women are "letting" their provider treat them any which way during the perinatal period?  How many people do you think are in their lives giving them such freedom and comfort?  That is the majority.  So, let's realize that it took probably 20 years for this woman to develop her idea about birth... it isn't going to change in a few weeks or months.  Be a good friend - because sometimes reducing the stress of that mom is what she *really* needs to have a SAF"ER" birth!  There are NO guarantees in birth.  There is NO choice that will certainly give you any outcome.  There is LOTS of evidence that shows how unhealthy moms - physically and mentally - can cause detrimental births.  So, if you want to really make a difference - go take a walk in private with a mom and listen to her story.  Get her pelvis moving and let her release some stress in a "safe" environment.  The human brain is much more receptive to love and support.

[heading type="h5" margintop="28px" marginbottom="28px" bordered="no" align="eg. left/right/center"]It isn't about [color]"right."[/color] [/heading]  What is right?  How can we possibly know what is "right?"  These are ALL relative terms.  I LOVE unhindered, biological birth intentions.  Love them.  I wholeheartedly believe in sharing what the body can do so that we can understand how our choices change this.  I believe this provides families with more responsibility in birth so that they can make the saf"er" decision based on the evidence they know and the "right" choice for THEIR family.  We do NOT have to support all the choices that every family makes.  We CAN understand that someone else may have a COMPLETELY different idea of "right."  There is a lot of power in walking what you believe in and just being a great model of those beliefs.  We can also be respectful and kind and let other families have their journey, too.

[heading type="h5" margintop="28px" marginbottom="28px" bordered="no" align="eg. left/right/center"]It is about [color]trust.[/color] [/heading]  Moms, what are you trusting?  Who are you trusting?  Are you getting one piece of information and taking that and flying with it, or are you researching more?  Whether it's your provider, your friend, or your birth educator don't stop with one piece of information.  Discover how you feel about it.  Trust is what progresses you through labor.  Will some moms need a statistic to trust birth?  Absolutely.  Will some moms cringe at statistics and stop trusting birth?  Absolutely.  Refer to the previous section and think on that.  We are feeling creatures.  You can believe it or not, but it is what it is.  We are also, as women, highly influenced by our peers.  So much is happening in our brain during conversations and experiences... this plays a huge role in birth.  We have to trust the process and let go.  Knowing your personality is a tremendous step in to choosing the setting that supports you the most.  In many situations, the subconscious is most free in a quiet, calm, and dark space.  There are exceptions, but finding the way that you trust birth biologically will reduce your risk factors.  If you have doubts of your provider, birth team, environment, or questions about the birth process and evidence and statistics... that is fear you're carrying into birth.  There is also trust in the birth experience.  We can only know what we have time to learn and believe.  It is hard to change a lifetime of beliefs in a moment, in a few days, or weeks.  Surround yourself with the type of experience you want to have.  There are still no guarantees in birth and as such you have to trust that you've made the best decisions you can and WILL make the best decisions you can as the course of birth changes.  It is a journey.

[heading type="h5" margintop="28px" marginbottom="28px" bordered="no" align="eg. left/right/center"]It is about [color]enlightenment.[/color][/heading]  Birth is a spiritual journey.  We just happen to have soooo many choices thrown at us that it seems so complicated these days.  The more simple we make it, the more we can focus on that spiritual change.  We are not merely pawns in this experience - we have a direct role.  We go through this journey, sometimes not even realizing what we are learning because of the culture.  Even through this, however, we emerge on the other side changed in many ways.  Embracing these changes and looking back at our journey can teach us a lot about our children, our relationships with those around us, and ourselves.  Who were you before you had children?  Who are you now?  It is an amazing journey and so incredibly when we see how connected our life is to the next step.

[heading type="h5" margintop="28px" marginbottom="28px" bordered="no" align="eg. left/right/center"]Above all, it is [color]YOUR[/color] journey.  [/heading]  You are the only one that can make decisions for yourself.  You are the only one that is birthing this baby.  You are the only one that is taking this baby home.  You are the one that lives with these choices you will be making forever.  What other people think is just that... what they think.  Choose what fits you and your baby and your family... but remember, it is YOUR choice.  Learning how your choices influence this experience can be quite valuable, but it is your choice to do so.  Own it.  Know why YOU are making the decision.  Also know that it is OK to change your mind, to do things different next time, or to do them the exact same way.  It is your baby and your birth.

Birth is a Journey

All of this is what supporting mothers is all about.  Where does your support come in when all you're doing is citing statistics?  Are your mothers statistics?  Mom, do you want to be just another statistic or do you want care from information to understanding?