Understanding that physiologically normal birth is a quintessential female act
• only women can give birth
• other people can greatly influence a woman’s ability to work in harmony with her natural processes.
Each woman chooses her professional care provider(s), as well as her own trusted team, which may include
• Family members
• Other supporters such as lay birth helper (doula)
Recognising the importance in physiologically normal birth that a mother is able to
• feel safe, personally respected, in a personal, intimate space
• be flexible – the mother can change what she wants/ doesn’t want
• move out of her thinking mind, and work in harmony with her intuitive brain
A mother who is able to take control of her environment, the space in which she labours, or the amount of light in the room, or personal touches such as her own music, or essential oils, can minimise feelings of alienation in labour, and enable her body to work effectively.
Minimising sensory stimulation in labour protects normal birth. Interference from anxiety, fear, higher brain activity, such as thinking about
• time between contractions,
• amount of dilatation, and other calculations that are in fact indicators of progress, which may inhibit normal birth
A woman may also be inhibited by the feeling of being observed, through photography, or strangers entering her labouring/birthing space. Any sensory stimulation may be unwelcome, and many mothers ask midwives to please refrain from using perfumes when attending births.
Being well. Healthy women usually give birth to healthy babies. Healthy diet, exercise, no exposure to smoking or other harmful substances in the environment, good social/emotional support in pregnancy and after the birth, access to professional care (eg dentist, physiotherapist, GP) as needed support wellness in pregnancy and birthing.
Knowing and trusting the midwife who can act with authority and take professional responsibility for primary maternity care. Being attended by a known midwife helps a woman to
• understand choices and make informed decisions
• have confidence in the knowledge base of her care provider
• be realistic about expectations
If a decision is made to accept medical intervention, the change of plan is made from the physiologically normal birth, to the best birth that can be achieved with the collaborative efforts of the maternity care providers in that situation.
Copyright: Joy Johnston 2008
[If you would like a .pdf of this document, to use as a handout without charge, please contact me firstname.lastname@example.org)