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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.
This is the speech given at The Book Launch.
The internet is Big. Mind blowingly Big. You won't believe just how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is.
Yes, I am a Douglas Adam's Fan
You have probably heard of 'The Cascade of Intervention'. It is the idea that once an intervention occurs, the rest shall follow. This is a 'Slippery Slope'. It is however, a bit more nuanced than a cascade. There is more than one slope. And there are plateaus and forks. At the forks, we must make a choice.
The maternity system provides ‘standard’ or ‘routine’ care.
Standard care follows a set of assumptions. The focus is on numbers, measurables and averages.
The process is designed to look for problems and provide solutions, but can in fact create problems (see The Nocebo Effect).