Before I started my birth doula journey nearly 2 years ago now, I was a wide eyed, idealistic, hypnobirthing teacher who had only experienced her own very peaceful, joyful home births. I was used to teaching parents that birth could be a calm and relaxed event. And that truly is what I believed, what I still believe. However I would be lying if I said that was what I witnessed in those first few births that I was privileged to attend. This is what I have learnt so far as a birth doula:
- A ‘good’ birth is not dependent on a vaginal delivery. A good birth is about feeling good during birth, no matter how it plays out. That means feeling supported, secure, loved, in ownership of the decisions made and well enough mentally and physically to look after a baby afterwards.
- Care providers can only support mums well if they have received clear instructions on what mums want for their birth. A dialogue before, during and after birth is essential, as is an expectation that they will help parents birth the way they have chosen.
- Confidence in a mum’s birth can very quickly leave the room. A birthing mum needs to lead with confidence BUT and it’s a big BUT her care team (husband, midwife and doula if present) all need to hold her there and protect her space so she can feel as confident and secure as possible in her ability to birth.
- Coercion using the fearful line ‘for your baby’s safety we would recommend (… insert intervention here)’ if often the beginning of a traumatic birth experience.
- Care providers can be as fearful of birth as first time mums. Which is a shame because fear and panic are contagious. While traumatised parents have to deal with the fallout as they raise their families, traumatised midwives have to return to work feeling fragile and afraid.
- When birth works well for a mum it is truly the best thing in the world to witness. Education, support, confidence and communication are all required from mums, dads, midwives and doulas to facilitate the best possible experience for everyone. This takes time, planning and commitment but is well worth the effort as the halo effect of a good birth serves everyone for years to come.
If you are a birth worker and have been effected by traumatic birth vicariously, would like to know more about it or regularly work with traumatised parents and are keen to know the best ways to support then the 2 day Birth Trauma Workshop may be for you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.traumaticbirthrecovery.com/courses-for-professionals for the next course dates.