Birth professionals are frustrated with childbirth too! There’s an imbalance in childbirth. Most birth professionals know this. Whether a Doctor, Obstetrician, CNM (certified nurse midwife) or Direct Entry Midwife, Doulas (birth support professional) and CBE (child birth educator) you all know something weird is going on in child birth today. Certainly since the 1970s issues around childbirth have become a political debate. Consumer birth advocates wanted heaps more choices and less ‘standards of care’ and ‘interventions’. Midwives and midwifery consumer advocates sought a legal place within maternity systems. Obstetricians have tried to understand Birth Plans as well as improving many of the medical procedures such as epidural compared to general anesthetics or low-lying c-section incision compared to ‘classical incisions’. Much has changed yet somehow everything has stayed the same … or gotten worse!
What’s gotten worse?
From a birth professional viewpoint there has been a continued increase in surgical cesarean … upwards to 50% in some hospitals. Wow!
From a consumer viewpoint there a huge increase in shame, blame, guilt, disappointment and anger that women feel about their birth experience. Wow!
The public debates about childbirth have centered broadly around these issues:
- Natural versus medical
- Doctor versus midwife
- Home versus hospital.
Of course there are many minor debates such as constant foetal monitoring as standard practice or cesarean delivery for all breeches and twins. The political debate continues.
No societal conversation
What if there were to be a social rather than political debate that still needs to come to the forefront. What if the childbirth debates were much less about where a woman births or who is the birth provider and more about what skills expectant parents need to use for themselves, regardless of where or with whom they give birth?
What if this social change could improve all birth professionals’ enjoyment of their work with birthing families? What if a social change could stop much of the political debate or at least stop the ‘either/or’ approach to birth care? This can happen when we reframe the relationship between pregnancy and childbirth from the point of view of expectant parents and not always from ‘delivery of service’.
Birth professionals are skilled
Obstetricians and midwives have all the skills in order to care for a woman in birth. Birth providers are highly trained with extensive education. While there is childbirth education connected to expectant parents, in reality childbirth education almost exclusively focuses on giving families information so they can make ‘choices’ rather than on skills families should ‘use’ while they do the ‘activity’ of giving birth.
In other words, birth professionals are using or doing their skills while birth just happens to women at the moment. And the role of fathers/others? Hardly inspirational!
Unfortunately even though birth is such a big event in any family, the current assumption strongly implies there is nothing a woman can do about a future event that is unknown.
Given this attitude, which is promoted by both Obstetricians and midwives alike, families are left with either ‘do what the Doctor says’ or create a Birth Plan to try to take some control over an experience that is surrounded closely by professionals. There is another option. Let’s consider having the appropriate birth and coaching skills that give families the ability to feel in control by how they work with their baby’s efforts to be born.
Birth is a situation where you don’t know exactly what will happen until the event itself. It doesn’t mean it remains that way. Childbirth has a 100% chance of unfolding. Let’s consider the benefits of growing a social acceptance that connects pregnancy, preparing for birth, learning birth and coaching skills then using the skills during the birth.
Birth is an action word
The actions any birthing woman can take, comes from the skills she learns. Because all women are human beings and all men have essentially the same body this means there can be a set of shared, common knowledge skills. Regardless of where or with whom a woman gives birth, she has to breathe and her body will be in some position. Skills such as: Directed Breathing, the Pelvic Clock or Deep Touch Relaxation, Kate’s Cat, Hip Lift and Sacral Manoeuvre any woman can learn and then use, with the necessary care, assessments, monitoring and procedures available.
In reality every birth provider loves to see a woman have a great birth experience. Now that fathers or partners are encouraged to help at birth, all birth professionals really love to see men do something practical and helpful.
Does having a skilled birthing population hinder or endanger the birthing process?
Preparing for birth, learning skills then using them should work well with all maternity services. While making a Birth Plan can set up the opposition based on ‘wants’ and ‘don’t wants’, skills are just the practical way to approach giving birth. When more expectant parents arrive in your care with a good set of birth and birth-coaching skills then come to you with confidence, capability, maturity and ability to work with their baby’s efforts to be born. Skilled families make your job much easier.
Positive birth experience
If we re-frame our social relationship with pregnancy and birth and bring skills into the childbirth conversation then skills must have a positive impact on how families feel about their birth experience. If choices aren’t empowering enough women because choices are variable, skills can help birthing women feel more in control no matter what type of birth they have.
Many birth professionals indicate they want this stalemate in childbirth to shift. Midwives want more ‘natural’ births and Obstetricians want ‘safe and healthy mothers and babies’. How can we achieve both of these things? By placing a greater responsibility on expectant parents to prepare for birth, learn skills then use them in whatever birth mothers and fathers then become part of the childbirth solution. The tug-of-war has been deflecting what’s important. Mothers and fathers having babies are not fully engaged in the birth of their baby.
The right skills for the task
When we have the right skills for the task, we feel more in control and better about our effort. Giving birth will always be an activity the woman is going to do with her baby, hopefully helped by her partner/other and the skills and care of birth professionals.
When birth professionals know that families are skilled then they can encourage the use of those skills. Won’t you like to see a Skills-based Birth Plan about what skills will be used along with what a family wants and doesn’t want? Won’t you feel better to know what the family will ‘do’ alongside the care you’ll give them? Of course you want this. Encourage your clients to learn skills and show you a Skills-based Birth Plan.
Here is the full list of skills that are so essential to the birth of every baby.