Oh it never ends! This constant straining to find the definitive 'Answer' to birth, and take comprehensive rubbish anyone who suggests otherwise.
This week we've been graced by an article in the Daily Mail, written by Esther Rantzen's daughter Rebecca Wilcox. She writes about how the myth of 'natural' childbirth caused her irreparable damage, and manages to stick the boot into the NCT (the UK's largest charity for parents) while she's at it.
You also won't be surprised to know that I think Rebecca Wilcox is damaging to women, although you may be surprised by why.
There IS no answer to what makes birth Good. 'Good' means completely different things to different people (in the same way that I'm prepared to bet that we all managed to get pregnant in slightly different ways). We already know this is true. If there was a 'Right' way to do birth, we'd all be doing it, and we'd all be complete & happy. This is patent rubbish.
The problem with women like Rebecca Wilcox and others who determinedly fixate on how Other Women are Wrong, is that they lead us up quite a completely pointless garden path. While she uses her voice to heap scorn on the NCT and negate other women's experiences, she's missing the point;
WOMEN CONTINUE TO BE HARMED BY BIRTH -
AND IT'S NOT INFORMATION THAT CAUSES IT
I've had messages from several clients this month, each telling me their own story of birth. Two were at home. One in hospital with an epidural. Another a Ventouse delivery after an epidural. The last at a birth centre. Some of these were 'as planned', others absolutely were not in the birth plan (who actively wishes for a Ventouse delivery?!). The common theme? These women felt cared for, heard & trusted. The were free to make decisions on the day. In short, they were treated with compassion.
And I spent the afternoon yesterday with a new mother, barely 30, who is now coping not only with her new role as mother, but also a birth trauma related diagnosis of PTSD and chronic pelvic floor issues. This women was not harmed by information, breathing or support, but by chronic underfunding & poor care in maternity services. She's coping brilliantly, but she just shouldn't have to.
Do I think organisations like the NCT and individual practitioners like me should bang on about the physiology of birth, the accessibility of home birth, the inherent opportunities & their rights? Hell yes! This SHOULD be tub-thumping, political stuff. Context is King, and the current context for birth is pretty dire, unless you take matters into your own hands. 87% of women give birth and we simply should not expect them to walk meekly into this transformation without the truth. That truth is that maternity services and infrastructure are not fit for purpose, and women are harmed as a result. This is politics.
Do I think MY opinion should impact on what YOU chose for your birth? Hell no! The fact that stories like Rebecca's exist quite reasonably affects your personal choices. My job is to help individual women navigate the current status quo in a way that gives them as much control as they can muster, so they walk away feeling powerful & proud, not diminished & damaged.
So. I am very sorry that Rebecca Wilcox has been so badly let down and physically harmed by her experience. But I sincerely wish she would use her voice usefully, to exhort the Government to adequately fund maternity services, and draw the spotlight to limitations imposed on women in this most important time in their lives.
Charlotte Edun is a doula, hypnobirthing practitioner and Positive Birth Movement Facilitator in Sevenoaks, Kent. She's all about control, where you can apply it & where you can release it.
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