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  • Kristyn Culliver

WHAT THE BIRTHING SYSTEM WON'T TELL YOU...

Updated: Aug 7, 2020


Today I had a sleep consultant tell me that parents don’t need a degree is sleep psychology to know how to get their children to sleep at night.

This is true. We don’t need a degree…

But, it made me think, do you take the time to educate yourself when it comes to making major decisions in your life?


Especially when it come to all things pregnancy, labour, birth and parenting?


We want to be recognised as women doing the greatest job in the world (because we are!). This takes time, effort, understanding, learning and education, like ay other "job".

We research the best pram, cot and sleeping swaddle to buy, we make sure we get value for money and find the best price, continually checking for sales and discounts…

But do we educate ourselves properly on sleep, breastfeeding, connecting with our baby, our rights when giving birth or the best way for us to give birth, that is aligned for us and feels right? Do we put time in to understanding what we want, how we want the experience to play out, the caregiver that is best for us during our pregnancy and labour…?


(And don’t be led to believe that you have little control on how your labour will play out, because you have more control than you realise)


Or do you leave it to the system?

Either option is fine. Either of these options, whether it is educating yourself fully in order to make informed decisions, or leaving the decisions up to others is fine, it is your right.


The problem comes when women (parents) don’t know what their options are to begin with. They take a route recommended by their caregiver (which I do not doubt comes from a place of what they believe is best in the current situation for that woman) because they don’t know of any other options, so they don’t know if it aligns with them or not. Whether it will feel right or not.


They become informed after the fact and this can be sad, damaging and even traumatic postpartum.


I say this from experience…


Society has told us that we don’t know what’s best as mothers (or parents). Society has led us to believe that they have all the answers for us.


And for some people they do…


I’m not saying the system is wrong necessarily, I’m not saying it doesn’t do good work, or that it doesn’t save lives….

But it’s a system. Within a system is a set of processes. These processes are generally time driven, and when these processes continue to fall outside of the timeframes set, the system will eventually fall over.

This is not good news for birthing women and mothers who have to function within society. This does not provide a calm, nurturing, safe environment to birth in. Rushing a woman’s body to birth is not conducive to the process playing out the way mother nature intended.


Women in labour and babies do not acknowledge or recognise timeframes.


So when a woman presents at hospital and labour doesn’t progress within the set timeframes, the labour is then moved along with intervention in order to pull it back in to the process or timeframe (remembering women are birthing ALL THE TIME. There are only so many beds, nurses and resources). Intervention then leads to the body being forced to do something that it isn’t ready to do, and that’s when things start to go wrong.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are exceptions to everything. But stick with me here…


Some women will go on to birth vaginally. Others will end up with a c section.

C sections occur for 29% of births in Australia. The World Health Organisation recommends 5% of births should end in c section. It’s quite atrocious for a country like ours to be missing the mark so badly. Not to mention some women want to elect for c section upfront because they are downright terrified of giving birth, because we fail to empower women to trust their bodies, because birth is associated with fear - way to put a woman on the back foot before she has even begun…


So it begs the question, if we had let the body do what it needed to do, would the outcome have been a better one?


Example - whilst in labour in hospital I had a shower for pain relief. I was monitored and told I had to get out of the shower. I wasn’t allowed to have my labour progress there. But in the shower, under the water I felt good, I fell confident, I felt like I could give birth. But I was told no.

This was something I didn’t know. I was unaware I wouldn't be able to labour in the shower. I wasn't even aware of how beneficial water is for pain relief, so I didn't even think to ask my hospital about this before the birth, because I didn't know! This is something I should have researched better prior to birth ie. forms of pain relief…

Side note - I ended up with a c section. Failure for my labour to progress coupled with my baby’s heart rate dropping meant I was rushed in to surgery. I was devastated and I remember begging the midwives to let me keep trying...


I am not ungrateful for the healthy and safe delivery of my baby. But I am annoyed that I wasn’t allowed to labour the way I wanted too….


Hindsight, right...?


I am learning more and more how intervention in birth leads to vital steps being missed in the birthing process (in particular the steps mother nature intended to happen through a vaginal birth) that make natural things like connecting with the baby and feeding so much harder.


Then the mother and baby are released back in to the world (the public system in Australia releases a mother who has birthed vaginally after 24-48 hours post birth) possibly shell shocked, traumatised, having no idea how to feed, wondering what happened, sad, isolated and vulnerable…


(And we haven’t even spoken about her partner who witnessed the whole thing happen to someone they loved)


She wonders what happened to the beautiful birth she envisioned and longed for and wonders where it all went so terribly wrong. Then she has to not only process those emotions but embark on the highly overwhelming and emotional learning curve of becoming a mother.


And we wonder why postnatal depression is a problem….?


So what’s the answer?


Well I can’t single handily change the system

BUT


I can empower you to educate yourself

I can empower you to learn your rights

I can empower you to know what you can ask for

I can empower you to seek support

I can empower you to do what feels right for you and your baby, and demand it with confidence and conviction

I can empower you to know it is your body, your baby, your choice

The thing is, if you know what you want and you make it clear, the system will generally respond.


When needing to troubleshot, the system is designed to give you the best option within its timeframe - remember, limited nurses, limited beds, limited time.


If the option given to you is aligned for you, great!

If it doesn’t, ask for an alternative until it does work for you.


How do you do this? By being informed, educated, prepared and knowing what you want, ad then communicating this to your caregiver and support person/people.


I will leave you with this thought:

The last time you went on a holiday to a new destination how much time and effort did you spend researching and getting to know that country before you left? (bearing in mind you would be in that country for only a short period of time?)


We spend so much time researching holiday destination, the best white goods on the market and the most functional and cost effective pram on the internet...

Then why don’t we spend the time understanding and educating ourselves on child birth, feeding and raising our children? Why don't we spend the time on something so much more important than a holiday or a refrigerator? This is a "job" that involves a humans life, which we will be influencing and impacting for the next 20 years….?


A human that looks to us for the love and safety it needs.


(and I don’t just mean getting your information from a poll in a mothers Facebook group. Yes these groups are helpful, but I mean take the initiative to gather the information and data from multiple reputable and trustworthy sources, including other mothers you trust and who support us and coming to an educated decision that sits right with you. No one else can make the right decision for you)


Why don’t we want to be experts at it and why do we leave these vital decisions in the hands of others?


Sure they are the experts, but then why are we disappointed in the end when it doesn’t work out how we wanted it to?

Sure we don’t need a degree, but shouldn’t we be taking full responsibility for the most important job we will ever do?


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