Birthing from the heart
Reclaiming every women's birth right
"In our culture childbirth has been seen as a medical procedure with majority of public discussion concerned with safety and statistics, as defined by physicians, and with little room for debate and dissension - specially from those who are at the center of the process: women themselves. [...] In a repeat survey published in 2006, 94% of those women who gave birth vaginally had routine eletronic fetal monitoring, 86% used pain-killing drugs, 80% were administered IV fluids, 76% had epidural analgesia. All of this in a extremely healthy population, among whom at least 70 to 80% could give birth whithout drugs or interventions[...] As a family physician and mother I ask myself why women are tolerating this situation. Why educated, articulated women who are prepared to battle for their rights in their personal and professional lives, so accepting the high intervention rates [...]" Birth is a women's issue, birth is a power issue..."(Gentle birth, gentle mothering, Sarah J. Buckley. MD, 2009)
Medical science and technology has brought unquestionable improvements in maternity care. Despite all the benefits obstetric medicine offer, a considerable number of women report low satisfaction, traumatic birthing experiences and related post-partum depression. This evidences shows that safety is not the only factor that should count in natal care-giving. Technology and the best medical knowledge cannot guarantee a positive birth experience.
Giving birth is natural and we are programmed by millennia of evolution to do it well, but here is the point : our society forgot it ! A gentle birth normally occurs when you have a non disturbed physiology and constant emotional support during labour and birth. Sometimes babies need some medical help to be born and that's fine (we are privileged for living in a society where we can have proper medical care whenever is needed). The problems start when we misunderstand the places of Nature and Culture in childbirth, and by consequent we don't honour them and don't allow neither natural birth nor medical assistance occurring in their best ways.
The World Health Organization statements on c-section rates indicates that between 10% to 15% of c-section rate is an acceptable roof number at a national level (regardless the country). Well developed countries have been presenting rates higher than 30% of c-sections (and this percentage is alarmingly growing). When we check the statistics of the famous "The Farm" (a birth center ran by midwives in US that supports natural births) we see the insignificant 1,7% of c-sections rate from 1970 to 2010 (currently this rate is around 5% because they started accepting mothers with low-risk medical conditions such as gestational diabetis). Looking to this numbers, we realize that something fundamentally important changed for the worse in our current birth culture.
After many decades of a fear-based birthing culture, natural childbirth has been promoted and expanded again. Researches shows the impact of birth for a lifelong term. By consequent, more attention has been paid to the emotional state of the mother and the more humanized care emerged.
We see the revival of the midwifery and the appearance of the figure of doulas as birth companion. This more mindful and compassionate care giving has a powerful impact on birth outcomes and on the mothers and babies well being.
Birthing from the heart is part of this bottom-up change lead my mothers and partners, midwives, doulas, lactation consultants, and also many obstetric doctors and nurses.
As a doula and childbirth educator, I advocate for natural birth. I celebrate the revival of home-birth. I welcome medical help and technology as recommended by the "Fortaleza Declaration". I orient my practices under the scope of the "Human Rights for Childbirth" and the "Doula’s Practice Code of Conduct".
The spirit of our time is changing for better. We are witnessing the so-called "Renaissance of birth" and I believe that this revolution will contribute to lead us to a more caring and loving humankind with women, children and Mother Earth. This beautiful new world is already "birthing from our hearts."
Letícia Coutinho Lobach
Doula, Childbirth educator and Hypnobirthing teacher