Birth in the UK in 2019 can be a highly medicalised experience
If you've been following this page for a while you will know that at the heart of what we do, is to provide women with evidence based information to make decisions about their birth, and support them to make it positive, whatever it looks like on paper, and I truly believe that it can be this way. But there's something we all should be aware of, and it's the enormous over medicalisation of birth in UK in 2019. (before someone jumps in & bites my head off about true medical emergencies, know that that is not what I'm talking about here.) More the gentle, subtle distrust in women's bodies & their instincts, (again no head biting, I'm not picking out individual midwives or doctors here- just the system as a whole) that goes on at every stage of pregnancy and birth.
What is going on?
How, in 2019, with everything we know about birth, labour wards still look like bleak, bright hospital rooms & couldn't be less likely to encourage physiological birth. How at 40 weeks we 'offer' women a sweep, despite there being sound evidence that the majority of women WONT have given birth by this point. How midwives don't have nearly enough time to share the information they most want to with women during pregnancy. How woman after women is 'offered' Induction for one reason or another without ever realising she could have said no, waited, or opted for something else. How we still use language that's totally dehumanising like 'failure to progress' & 'baby delivered'. The system that we birth in very quickly turns us into passive, compliant bystanders. Women that head up multinational companies, women that single handedly look after 5 kids all day, women who speak 4 languages, BRIGHT, ASSERTIVE, INTELLIGENT WOMEN! (YES, I MEAN YOU!) nod their heads, and 'go with the flow'. .
Only 20% of births remain unmedicalised.
In the UK currently 48% of births have some kind of medical intervention before women have even gone into spontaneous labour.. Only 52% of women go into labour naturally. By the time we have given birth almost 80% of us will have had intervention of some kind. Mind. Blown. If 80% of births couldn't happen without intervention, the human race would have been wiped out long ago!
Making Birth Better
Whilst recommendations from the WHO and changes through initiatives like Better Births, changes are coming, but that doesn't help if you're due next week! This is why it is so so important to be involved in the decision making around your birth, ask questions, ask for time, TRUST YOUR INSTINCT.
But also to be aware of the system we are Birthing within, in many ways fantastic-life saving treatment freely available at the point of use when we really need it. And in other ways so tricky to navigate, potentially causing as many problems as it's helping, and taking away from the innate instinct that as Birthing women we have within us.
If you're pregnant have a think now about what you can do to help you navigate this system!
It might be hiring a doula, chatting to an independent midwife, doing a birth-ed Course, seeing if your Trust has a case loading team, looking into home birth, reading books like The Positive Birth Book by Milli Hill or How to Have a Baby by @tellmeagoodbirthstory, it might simply be joining The Positive Birth Group on Facebook or heading along to your local @positivebirthmovement meet up. Put yourself back in the steering wheel of your pregnancy.
Ps I'm going to say it again, this is NOT a dig at individual midwives or doctors, but an issue in the system we are made to work and birth in itself.