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Childbirth Education (The Independent Kind); What’s The Big Fuss?


Well, first and foremost, knowledge is power, right? I’m a big believer that you can’t make a decision about something you know nothing about... yet you hear so many women’s birth stories recounting how they were thrown all these options and didn’t know what to choose and ended up with the old “I trust your judgement” and giving all their power to their doctor or midwife. We live in unfortunate times in our maternity system, where more and more women are left feeling unsupported, like they have no choice, and not to mention the fear or anxiety that can come with being in a hospital (if that’s where you choose to birth). So the waters are becoming murkier and women are needing to be their own advocate, as in Australia our rates of induction alone for low risk, Singleton pregnancy, no older than 34 with no health complications between 37-41 weeks are sitting at 40% and we're talking women with no medical need to be induced. Also, noting the exclusion of women over 41 weeks, these statistics would be somewhat higher. There’s something big going on here, and with those rates of unnecessary intervention gone are the days where we can say “I trust your judgement, you make the decision” to any of our care people. At the moment, the system is failing a lot of women. We are causing unnecessary medical intervention where it needn’t be.


So, in a nutshell, that in itself is reason enough get your mind into gear and start navigating and learning about pregnancy, birth, and all things in between. There is a study by Dr Kate Levett that found independent childbirth education that included teachings of mindfulness, breathing, acupressure and other pain management techniques halved birth intervention, and let me break down why I think this is the case...


Going independent means, no bias or any hospital control over what is taught; which means firstly, no epidural needle is passed around on show in classes, and for good reason, that stuff is pure fear mongering not to mention it’s conditioning women straight off the bat that they can’t go without, not to say that you have to go without, it’s all a choice, but let’s start having a little more faith in our innate abilities that are hardwired into our brain, and that there are also other ways to support women before bringing out the big guns. Make note women, we are damn strong, and our bodies are made to do this.


Then we look at birth partners. Oh birth partners, how big your role actually is. It’s one of the first things I say to my clients in the first session I teach “birth partners, you may be thinking why am I here or why do I need to be here”... well they are really vitally important, not only in supporting through movement, massage, acupressure, hypnosis, setting up the space, oxytocin flow, advocating for mums wishes and birth preferences. So yeah, it’s a big gig.


Birth preferences; and the keyword here is preferences. This is not a “plan” of this is what I want and I’ll be terribly disappointed if things don’t turn out, because life is unexpected and things go off track and sometimes not the way we want. However, this is about you getting informed in the process. As you’re reading, researching and talking with your birth partner about your ideal birth, what you value, what’s important is you are getting your leaning caps on in the process and, ding ding, we come back to this idea of knowledge is power. And, how empowered it is to be faced with a situation and know the lingo of what’s being thrown across to you when a situation arises. it means decision making is a whole lot easier. And, let's face it, there is a whole lot of lingo and jargon used around birth.


Then we consider the tools and techniques, like in your garden shed you may have many different tools for the same job but choose to use one, and that’s fine, but the important thing is that you’ve got options. How amazing to think that by practicing different tools and techniques you’re setting yourself up for an empowered experience, with all this support at your fingertips. One of these tools we touch on a lot is self hypnosis and breathing techniques. Something that’s incredible though, about all these tools and techniques is that they are transferable to situations in life particularly for example, in the early days of breastfeeding and anxiety that comes with new motherhood, and well into parenting.


Another aspect of independent education, is the fact that alternatives are promoted, so, the whole picture is shared. So many times do I hear of situations where women are "told" by their care provider that they need to intervene in certain ways, however, what independent education teaches, is options, and that we have a range of things that can be tried before what is often promoted by the system, and this is just an unfortunate case of you only know the scope of which you've been taught, and unfortunately most of the medical system know only that. For example, in the case of a baby being in a breech presentation, as independent educators we teach many different tools to look into before going down the medical route of an ECV (external cephalic version) for example, hypnosis, gentle body work like Spinning Babies techniques, Chiropractic Webster technique, acupuncture, Moxibustion. How empowering to think when you're confronted with a decision you actually have many potential options, not just one?


With all that to consider, you also come away with your own advocate... Me! And, with that comes continual support, encouragement, positivity and an extra bundle of resources that are just a click away from me sending your way, so that however your pregnancy unfolds, you stay informed, knowledgable, heard, and supported throughout.



Resources

https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/6/7/e010691


https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/mothers-babies/ncmi-data-visualisations/contents/labour-and-birth-indicators/induction-of-labour

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