I hope you are well. Are you welcoming Autumn or is Spring tickling the Earth?
In this newsletter StoryTime brings you a reading of "The Book with No Pictures", read by the author. (technical difficulties have prevented me from reading my intended book: "The Paper Bag Princess", you can expect that and "Hairy McLary from Donaldsons Dairy" in future newsletters.)
I am emphasising written 'birth plans' in this issue. Having added a new article (below) to the resource section in the Support Group, and in light of the public consultation period for the Maternity and Nursing code of ethics (which ended on March 10th), I was revisiting the idea of 'informed consent'. I am also reflecting on International Womens Day (March 8th).
THE WRITTEN BIRTH PLAN
It is impossible to give informed consent 'on-the-spot' and under duress. Often we are alerted to a 'standard test' on the day it is being done (such as the GBS test) or on the day we are given the referral (such as the glucose challenge testing). We might be given a flyer to read or given a brief summary by our care provider about the test. We are not usually told it is optional or what alternatives exist. Likewise, in labour, when our primal brain should be active and our 'thinking brain' minimised, to be bombarded with questions, bright lights and requests for consent will hinder our labour. It increases the risk of actually needing intervention and can be very stressful and confusing. This is called the Nocebo Effect.
Taking time during pregnancy to be aware of these 'standard' procedures and determining for ourselves how to proceed means we can communicate in advance these decisions. The written document serves as a reminder of these decisions.
The considerations in advance mean we visit scenarios that will form our contingency plan. It is these aspects of the plan that mean the plan is never thrown out.
The Book with No Pictures
Read by the author on the Penguin YouTube Channel.
I am perplexed as to why Informed Birth Preparation is not 'standard'. Many researchers have addressed* the empowering nature of preparing a birth plan, and how it benefits not just the birthing woman, but also her supporters and the care providers.
The power come from the process, the written document itself is simply a reflection of this process.
In an ideal world, the informed birth preparation process would be guided by our care provider. The reality, however, is that we must take the reigns for ourselves, through Informed Birth Preparation.
*links to some of these are in the 'Don't throw out the birth plan' article
INTERNATIONAL WOMENS DAY
March 8 saw #IWD2017 flooding twitter feeds and spiking conversations across the globe. The theme of this year was #BeBoldForChange with a focus on Gender. This bothered me (and I welcome your input here, critical or otherwise, as conversation is an important part of becoming Informed).
What bothered me about this was that 'gender' is not a womens issue. Gender is an interesting discussion, that needs to be had, but it fraught with controversy and politics. I do not think it quite fitted with this day. I feel that transgender politics is blurring, masking and even dissolving some of the very real issues faced by women. The biological issues that have largely been ignored by feminism since the Suffragettes. The focus for women has been in equality, and it seems to me that as long as women behave as men, ignoring their biological differences, all is equal. But the reality is, there are some major biological differences that are at the root of the problems women face. In particular, women who become mothers. I recommend reading Liberating Motherhood, Birthing the Purple Stocking Movement by Vanessa Olorenshaw.
The Code of Conduct for Midwives is proposing referring to 'Pregnant People' rather than Pregnant Women. Whilst this seems reasonable and inclusive, Vanessa Olorenshaw pointed out the absurdity of such a thing.
Devaluing Motherhood, by focusing on the brilliance of women who have careers in (previously) male dominated areas and ignoring the maternity-side of women could be one reason why many women experience post natal depression. My experience at school was very much about going to university, having a career, because our foremothers had fought hard for our right to have these options, and to be 'just a mother' was lowly and beneath us. Earn enough money and you can outsource the 'menial' tasks; the housework, the meal preparation...even the childcare. Somehow, it wasn't deemed important to encourage boys to see these things as worth their time. Or to encourage workplaces to support parenting.
We can change this for the next generation. One organisation aiming to do this is 'Lead Mama Lead' , by challenging workplaces.
I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences, perhaps you have interesting articles or know of organisations working towards life balance.
There is much more to see in The Support Group, and I am adding more each day. You can access a PDF of THIS IS YOUR BIRTH: The Informed Woman's Guide to Birth Preparation. I welcome your input into the space, but it also stands alone as a resource. You can also invite your friends to access the site.
A monthly update for the Support Group is sent on the 3rd of each month.
This newsletter is sent out on the 17th of each month.
Yours in Support and Information,
The Birth Cartographer
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