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Making choices for you

How did I survive without iPlayer? Another night, another catch-up session with Himself, a glass of wine and, last night some gloriously spicy beef, broccoli & sesame noodles. We cue'ed up this interesting watch - Jacques Peretti exploring & exposing consumerism. Religion is no longer the opium of the people, we discover, shopping is.

Its a slightly toe curling watch for an old marketeer like me, as Jacques demonstrates how marketing campaigns exploited our primal anxieties about safety & cleanliness to make us buy more of the things we don't really need. A shift from replacing things because they don't work, to replacing them because they don't look acceptable.

And as I squirmed on the sofa, contemplating the special place in hell reserved for advertisers, an interesting correlation began to percolate in my my previous life, when I worked with some of the brands you probably buy in your local supermarket, we used to talk about the psychology of choice. You may not believe it, but when you stand in the supermarket aisle and lift a jar of jam from the shelf, you're not simply making a decision about jam. Of course, you have your own personal preferences about raspberry vs. apricot, or seedless vs. textured, or how much you're prepared to spend (there's an amazing price difference between the most & least expensive jams). Although these considerations are seemingly directly related to your toast & jam, your choices are influenced by more complex psychological & cultural considerations too. When we buy jam we're influenced by our experiences - what our grandparents ate, the ad we saw on TV, the price promotion running on our favourite brand, the amount of toast we eat in our household, our health beliefs...all these and more are factors in decision making.

Before I get too Eddie Izzard about this, I do have a point that relates to birth: choice. Without stating the bleeding obvious, we can only chose the things we know about, the things we've heard about from the people who influence us. We know that making active birth choices is a meaningful indictor of whether a mother is likely to reflect on her birth as having been 'Good'. But where do women get the information they need to make informed choices from?

From family experiences - Mothers, Aunts, Grandmothers, Cousins? The information they share is likely to be anecdotal, and nuanced by their own experiences.

From popular culture? Well that's often highly dramatised - it's supposed to be entertainment, after all, so most frequently shows the polar ends of the spectrum. The best & worst.

From the NHS? I'm a huge advocate of the NHS, although I understand it's role is to intervene when something goes wrong with your body, not to give information about how wonderfully well your body can perform on it's own. So often in Parentcraft classes the focus is on pain, intervention and worst case scenario.

So how can pregnant women and their partners make active choices about their births? Well, I'm bound to say they should join The Wise Hippo's. We encourage parents-to-be think about what their fears and anxieties are, we help them uncover some truths about how our bodies operate in labour, and we teach practical techniques & skills that allow them to navigate their own birth experience. In short, we help them make a truly informed choice about birth.

Hooray to the Hippos! Hooray to choice!


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