Are You Really Serious About Changing Childbirth?
What a bizarre title to this post! You are not responsible for changing ‘Childbirth’ … that’s a big ask. You are responsible for your birth. If you are a care provider, you are not responsible for another woman’s birth experience … she is and so is her partner.
Childbirth is stuck in a rut and no one seems to be able to get it on track. Perhaps we’re looking in the wrong direction. Since the 1980s we’ve focused all attention on women’s choices and constructing a Birth Plan. In other words, there is a strong message given to pregnant women: ‘You just have to choose the birth you want’. That message is disingenuous, to say the least. The Truth about childbirth: ‘There is no way to know what your birth will be like’. There is no way you can choose the birth you want. You will get the birth you have. Your birth will always be an activity you have to do, without exception. Learn birth skills.
What to do?
Let’s grow a skilled birthing population! No kidding. If you can’t choose the birth you’ll have, you can certainly and without a doubt use birth and birth-coaching skills in every type of birth. It’s as simple as that. Choice is based on your wants and what you don’t want. Skills are what you do and use.
When the concept of growing a skilled birthing and coaching population was put forth, it was ridiculed by childbirth advocates in both the natural birth movement and medical model.
Why should a great concept be ridiculed? Well, the Natural Birth Movement laughed at the concept because the ideology is based on:
- Birth so natural that women don’t need to be taught how to give birth. Right?
- Once women have the choice of continuity of care midwife and homebirth and reject medical care (unless necessary) then birth will be natural. Right?
- Women don’t need to be told what to do, as mothers we intuitively know what’s best for our baby. Right?
The medical model laughed because:
- Too many Birth Plans fail. Right?
- There’s no way to know what your birth will be like, therefore, there’s no way to prepare for it. Right?
- If a woman (and her partner) wants to do anything that’s their choice. Right?
The medical model opposed the concept that women could learn how to give birth because:
- Birth is out of a woman’s control.
- If women and men are skilled they will take unreasonable risks.
- There’s no sense in getting a woman’s hope up that she’ll have a ‘natural’ birth when she already has health issues that require medical care.
The Natural Birth Movement violently opposed the concept that society needs to expect a skilled birthing population because:
- Women breathe all the time and will breathe in labour.
- Birth is an individual experience and one size does not fit everyone.
- The reason birth is the way it is has to do with the medical profession that puts fear into women when birth is fundamentally a safe part of a healthy woman’s life.
In fact, in 2019, very few pregnant women search Google for childbirth or birth skills! Yet, there are millions of searches for Birth Plans.
Where are we now?
Let’s look at birth from the viewpoint of expectant parents:
- You should prepare the pregnant body to give birth (because 100% of pregnant women will give birth and pregnancy will make a transition to giving birth without exception).
- You can learn both birthing and coaching skills so that you can work together through this activity of giving birth … whether medical or natural and inclusive of having a non-labouring Caesarean.
- You can use your birth and coaching skills to work with your baby’s efforts to be born because doing so brings you closer together, fills the time-frame of this activity, works in absolutely all births AND essential to your new activity of being a parent.
This shift towards a skills-based approach to childbirth from just a choice-based approach is met with this.
“All truth goes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Then it is violently opposed. Finally, it is accepted as self-evident.”
What is your role in all of this?
If you’re pregnant you need the birth and coaching skills for yourself as both a mother and father-to-be just as you need the complex skills you taught yourself to drive. Without them what would happen if you took a journey (another activity) and didn’t know how-to drive?
If you’re a birth professional then you absolutely must want to see more women cope, manage, deal with and handle labour pains as a skilled woman rather than just get by and get through birth. Because you see lots of births you absolutely know how many women don’t know how to birth. Your attitude makes a difference. You know that women who feel good about their birth are more ready to parent. AND you absolutely must want men to know how to help more than what you are seeing now. You know that couples who work together are more likely to stay together.
Let’s all uplift childbirth to an activity that deserves a high level of skills. If we don’t intuitively know what foods are safe or poisonous even though hunger is a natural physiological process then let’s acknowledge that birth and coaching skills can be self-learned and used in every birth situation.
Together let’s imagine a world in which every single mother-to-be feels enjoys taking time during her pregnancy to prepare her body, learn skills that will work in every type of birth then use those skills in whatever birth unfolds … including cesareans … Why not?
Together let’s imagine a world in which every single father-to-be also enjoys helping his partner prepare her pregnant body to let out a big object (his child), learn the skills to help her do this activity (and build her confidence in him) and use those coaching skills in whatever birth unfolds.
Together we can change childbirth.
Birthing Better skills were developed by moms and dads in the early 1970s in the US and used by many thousands globally in all types of birth. Birthing Better online birthing classes are housed in Common Knowledge Trust.