Wednesday, August 17, 2011



This is a great article!

Why I Support Women to Birth At Home - A Midwife Speaks

"My background – my midwifery upbringing if you like, was in the medical system. I learnt to stand with women as they came to hospital to birth. Over the years, I saw something that is meant to be a normal life event turned into a technological mine field, and over and over I saw mothers and babies damaged – for the most part unnecessarily. Some were traumatized physically, some emotionally, and some were just plain lucky. I learnt that only around 46% percent of women fit on the medical professions chart of what is deemed a “normal labour”. Had we women got so bad at birthing that more than half of us were considered abnormal? Or was the chart wrong? And I also noted that around 1/3 or us “needed” a caesarean section and that only about 17% of women were lucky enough to get away with minimal interference. And the fear – - – well, you could smell the fear of the first time couples in the birthing education classes, and you could smell the fear on the birthing suites. Was birth really this way? Or did we make it this way?

I saw that most women began their pregnancies wanting a birth without complication. Some would even express a desire for a natural birth. The basic difficulty with this desire was that few of those women understood what a natural or normal birth was and eagerly accepted medical monitoring and testing. Most had no understanding that their choices in pregnancy would influence their birth, and their desire for a natural birth became swallowed by the very system that they trusted to assist them. And I also came to understand that unfortunately, few birth practitioners or care givers understood these things either. Even midwives who served women through attending home births brought the medical system and its understanding into the home, not completely understanding how to divorce their training from the reality of birth and what it was that women needed. Seeking the “best care” and feelings of security and safety, women assume that care through the medical system with all its bells, whistles, technology and testing, will give them the gold standard. It is only after the birth, often traumatised and shocked, that they start to question how things went so wrong. Many still, even after birth trauma, do not make the connection between medical testing, intervention, technology and poor birth outcomes.

Giving birth is one of the most beautiful and significant things a woman will ever do, and the experience will shape her mothering and feelings about herself for some time. When a woman’s power is taken from her, or when she never realises her own power, it has a negative impact not only on how she births, but how she bonds and how she mothers. It also has a life shaping effect on her baby. In just a few short generations, birth has been stripped of its emotional, sensual and spiritual foundations. Instead of honouring birth (and creating a safe place to ensure women birth easily and naturally) the medical system has failed to recognise birth’s importance as the starting point for healthy, whole families, and therefore the health of our societies and nations. They have neglected the true essence of this very powerful yet ‘common’ event. They have become more technological and far cleverer in finding ways to “monitor”, “gauge” and “care” for birthing women. Unfortunately, they have also become far more reliant on machines, numbers, set criteria and intervention to “manage” labours and “deliver” babies. And as a society, we automatically think the more technology the better and safer we are. In our relentless push for the “perfect outcome” too many babies enter a violent and troubled world under traumatic and violent conditions. And we are lulled into a false sense of security, and just accept that those who are managing our pregnancy and birth actually understand what they are doing. In reality, the desire to control labours to ensure good outcomes has resulted in a complete lack of understanding of what happens naturally – a physiological birth.

For the most part, midwifery as a profession has lost its way as a companion and champion for women – it has become an authority over the woman. Midwifery models of ‘care’ battle it out with medical models of ‘care’. It has reduced birthing women to statistics and de-humanised the very foundation of our society – and ignored the fact that women have their own birthing power. It is not about whether it is a midwife or a doctor/obstetrician conducting or having power over your birth. It is about women. It is always about women and their ability to know what to do. It is about instinct and support – not about midwives, doctors, home or hospital. I want to see women rise up to claim the birthing power that is within them. I fully believe that what happens at birth can change the future – the future for that little baby and mama and family; but also the future of society. Letting birth unfold as it should helps the development of empathetic humans who will in turn love and have compassion and be the leaders in the world of tomorrow. The desensitisation to pain and trauma that is just ‘normal’ within the birthing business – both at home and in hospitals – has much to contribute to our disenfranchised society. I stand for mothers and babies basic human rights. I will have no part of a system that denies women their right of choice about what they believe is best for themselves and their baby, and I will have no part in a system that considers the only right that a baby has is to live. What happens at birth DOES MATTER – and how you live is just as important as the living itself."