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There is an unspoken reality lurking in the undertones of maternity care.
It is sinister and unconscious, a toxic unawareness that seeps into all communications and puts the weight of responsibility and expectation onto The Woman.
I will call this The Game of Birth.
I was talking to someone about 'birth disappointment' the other day, and was told "women should not have such high expectations! Honestly women these days are just so fragile". I took a deep breath before responding. If a healthy woman is expecting a 'normal birth' that is not a high expectation. That is a reasonable and minimal expectation. It is not 'fragile' to be disappointed by a birth that does not met this expectation. For women to lower their expectations of birth, to the reality of the current birth climate, would set a new (horribly) low benchmark. Along with "all that matters is a healthy baby" these comments tell us that women do not matter. First Class Maternity Care - it's a political choice (first class care should be the MINIMUM we expect!).
You see...this birth disappointment may just be putting new mothers at greater risk of Post Natal Anxiety and Depression (1). They begin their mothering journey full of self-doubt, and uncertainty. This can then be compounded by a mothering reality that does not meet their expectations.
I stood on a beach. Dogs galumphed and trotted, wagging tails and lolling tongues. Blissfully enjoying the freedom of an off leash frolic with their human companions.
Not so long ago, this scene would have had me in a state of fear. Near panic and disbelief would have overcome me, and I would not have stepped foot on that beach.
I existed in a fearful Stage of Being for nearly 30 years. The source of this fear was a black Labrador pup named Vada. My earliest memory haunting me, this black dog looming over me. But I married a dog person. Who decided the time had come, and Mr Pooey Doddy Jet Houdini Englebert Sprocket Donkey came to live with us. This rescue bitzer was a good dog. My rational brain knew this. But there was no telling my fearful being. I was angry, so very angry.
Many women don’t seem to realise they CAN question the doctor, let alone seek another opinion or change care providers.
Part of this is the power play that occurs when visiting the doctor: