Belief and fear often go together.
Often long held, and unquestioned, our beliefs and fears can lead us to 'solutions' that may not actually be helpful.
How do our beliefs and fear impact our approach to childbirth?
Many an anxious husband insists on all the bells and whistles, all the pings, mistakenly (and arrogantly) believing that they can buy safety. Unable to trust anyone, not even his wife and her ability, his fear guides the decisions. He may prefer the (often male) obstetrician, rather than the (usually female) midwife, and intervention over nature. The illusion of control helps him feel better. He believes he is being a protector, a saviour even, as he assumes the decision making is his responsibility.
I have heard many stories of husbands declaring they will carry their wife, kicking and screaming if needs be, to hospital in labour rather than honour her will to birth at home. He assumes he has this right. Often this declaration is paired with ignorance, on a foundation of belief and fear. Often the wife is well researched, with a foundation of understanding and trust. But his declaration trumps hers. Apparently.
8 factors that influence your birth choices
If, as a Birthing Woman, you are teamed up with a well meaning anxious husband, it is important that his fears and anxieties are addressed, but not left to drive the decision making.
Informed Birth Preparation is as much about preparing the birth partner (such as the anxious husband) as it is about the birthing woman. At the beginning of the process, addressing the concerns of the partner helps to shift the focus towards the birthing woman and to replace the concerns with understanding. Ultimately, the birthing woman is the one at the centre, and it is her needs and desires that should drive the process. A partner full of adrenaline and assumed control is not conducive to a calm and positive birth.
This fear and anxiety is not helped by a system that is equally driven by a need to 'control and manage' rather than 'embrace and trust' a biologically normal life event. From the moment the pregnancy is confirmed, the metaphorical conveyorbelt approach of the maternity system is looking for problems.
For many people 'going with the flow' seems like the best approach. The belief is that handing over the 'control' to the 'experts' is safest and will lead to the best outcome. This reliance on luck and transference of power, however, disregards the importance of this life changing event. It also means that we are assuming our beliefs are based on truth and that our fears are well-founded.
Never Assume Anything!
Instead of assuming our beliefs and fears are correct, we use them as the starting point of our preparations. We Question them. Why do I feel this way? What is this based on?
The Fast Birth Pathway is a great way to replace belief with understanding, and fear with trust. This 'what if' is based on a normal biological event. We take out the drama, acknowledge responsibility, and put in place a sensible and realistic approach.
If this - then that.
The beauty of this approach is that it carries over into our other pathways. Instead of handing our power over, we become an active participant in our care. We take the time to ask questions and understand our options. With an understanding of all our options, we can determine the best pathways for ourself. This benefits women, their partners and the care provider.
There is no one way. Instead of fear-based decision making, take a step back.
Ask yourself - what do I need to know?
What are you assuming?
Are you assuming 'something will go wrong'?
The Nocebo Effect is when our belief that something will go wrong leads to something going wrong. It is the opposite of the Placebo Effect. This mind over matter effect means that we might believe we have been saved, when in fact a cascade of intervention occurred.
Taking time to learn about the biology of birth is a great way to combat the mind over matter effect. Independent Childbirth Education (that is, not the hospital provided classes) have been shown to greatly improve outcomes*. This is because the focus is on biological birth, not medicalised birth. More time is given in independent classes to understanding birth, techniques you can use to minimise risk and focusing on what can go right. Hospital based classes are time limited, and explain how the hospital will manage you, with the focus on what can go wrong. The knowledge gained in the independent classes allows for better communication with your careprovider. This translates into feeling respected.
So if you are an anxious husband who thinks that you are being awesome by buying private cover and hiring an expensive obstetrician for your wife who is having a low risk pregnancy...think again. Your money and time is better spent on Independent Childbirth Classes (including a class for men, such as Beer and Bubs), a doula, or even an Independent Midwife. You can not buy a guarantee, you can take responsibility and replace fear with knowledge.
*outcomes are based on reduced use of intervention and the positive reporting of the birthing woman
Birthing is not a medical event by default. Obstetric care is a medical event by default, wonderful if needed but 'overkill' for most pregnancies. Midwifery care begins without assumption, does not seek to find a problem, but will see one if it arises and take the appropriate action. Continuity of Care, with a midwife, creates the safest and most satisfying experience. This is important because a positive experience of birth will reduce our risk of postnatal depression.
Danger, risk or opportunity?
Getting things into perspective and making Informed Decisions is the first step to a safe birth.
Selected Articles by Catherine
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