Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Trust Birth?


I read a post on the ubiquitous Facebook the other day about a triumphant birth. A woman and her husband went to the hospital with their doula. The woman laboured with the support of those around her - her doula, husband, and the medical staff. She required no drugs, no medical interventions at all. In fact, she had a natural birth in a hospital setting. Which is wonderful, joyful, and, unfortunately, increasingly rare.

Why did she have a natural birth? Was she lucky? Did she just happen to have the right combination of a good pelvis, an agreeable baby, health, happiness, strength, the right medical staff, and good timing? Or was it really because she did a prenatal class that was somehow better than any of the other prenatal classes out there? Or was she determined? Or was she a positive thinker? Or did she have some good karma coming her way?

Probably a little bit of all of the above. When I am working with a woman I feel confident about, she has a good combination of strength, flexibility, confidence, vulnerability, self-knowledge, and a touch of who-gives-a-shit. She may or may not have an amazing support system and wide hips. She may have had a terrible childhood, and she may not be a very nice person. She may be having trouble in her relationship. She may have a lousy relationship with her mother. She may be tiny. She may be fat. She might not eat too well.

But there is a certain woman power that she will have, that will come out when she is birthing, that reassures me that this woman will not be too much of a challenge during and after labor. I am confident that labor will unfold, it will be powerful and most probably painful. It may make her feel like she is going to die, but I will be able to keep her to her path.

Most doulas, midwives, and physicians can tell you that they have a sense of a woman who is heading for a natural birth, if she is given the chance. The problem with most hospital births these days is that very few women are even given that chance. The epidural rate for first time mothers in the hospitals in Montreal is over 90%. That is no chance at all, for a woman who is feeling labor for the first time.

So, as the Muslims say, pray to Allah, but tie your camel to a tree. That is, don't rely on faith to make things happen for birth. Although much of it is chance, or fate, karma, or the divine, what is left over is human intervention - or human strength - or woman power. Let it shine!

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