Wednesday, February 10, 2010

You shouldn't 'Try' to have a 'Natural' birth

"Satisfaction and fulfillment in birth do not depend on an absence of medical intervention; they do depend, however, on the degree to which other essential but intangible ingredients - human values - are present."  - Penny Simkin 

You shouldn't try to have a "natural" birth, you should prepare to have an empowered birth!

The most important thing is not whether or not you succeed in birthing without any help or medical interventions. If you make that your most important goal for your childbirth experience, then you will feel even worse if you feel you've failed.

Your goal should be to adequately prepare for every possibility - know how you feel about every single medical intervention or care provider rule and keep your mind open to how your feelings about them may change once you are in labor. The key is being informed.

If you don't know your options, you don't have any.

Ideally, one should remain flexible. It is important to realize that things don't work out how you've envisioned, whether you're a first time mother or a mother 10 times over! Each labor experience will be new and different. And no one will deny that childbirth is challenging.

If you prepare for flexibility you will 1. be fully knowledgeable of all your options ahead of time, 2. be able to make informed decisions should some turn of events occur, 3. feel much better emotionally after the birth.

I read in a recent post on interventions at Stand and Deliver:
"The prominent theme in these four sets of birth stories is that the women who felt the interventions were necessary and welcome, rather than unnecessary and traumatizing, freely chose the interventions on their own--on their own request, on their own timetable, and on their own initiative. They knew it was time for assistance. They were the primary actors in their births, rather than recipients of others' agendas. They held the locus of control, even when that meant asking others to do things for or to them at some point (IV, epidural, Pitocin, or c-section)."

This reminded me of something I learned about in my doula workshop...

Studies on women’s long-term perceptions of birth demonstrate that the way women are treated by birth professionals determines how satisfied they are with the experience. A study by Penny Simkin, in particular, demonstrated that the women who felt in control of their situation, instead of being treated as ignorant or powerless, had the most satisfying birth experiences. Her study showed that women did indeed remember their birth experiences in detail even twenty years later, and they very much had an impact on their psychosocial health. 

I found that if particular factors were present, women are more likely to feel long-term satisfaction... The women with positive feelings today recall being well cared for and supported by the doctor and nurse, whereas those with negative feelings today tend to recall negative interactions with staff...

Control over what was happening to them and the decisions about their care were important factors in long-term satisfaction. Women whose doctors and nurses said and did things that they did not want still feel anger and disappointment...

The way a woman is treated by the professionals on whom she depends may largely determine how she feels about the experience for the rest of her life. (Just Another Day in a Woman's Life? 1991)
These are more reasons why it is great to have a doula by your side. Your doula can help you feel powerful, in control and supported. She can help you maintain this even if something unexpected comes up and you must alter your birth plan and be a little flexible.  She will have helped prepare you for all possibilities, remind you of your options, and you will feel much better for having empowered your birth experience!

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