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Birth: Live and Political 

Were you ever scared of child birth? I know I was with my first baby. Although I'd read a few pregnancy books, birth seemed so foreign and so strange to me. I don't spend a lot of time in hospitals and like it that way, so the idea of going into a hospital to push out a baby when I'd never even seen another woman give birth was a frightening. I wish I had been more educated at the time. I wish I had access to more options in terms of a birth attendant and birth location. I wish that I had spent more time researching instead of simply trusting.

Seeing Birth Can Calm Fears

Dr. Nancy and her family

Nancy Salgueiro, an Ottawa birth coach, chiropractor and mother of two, is planning to broadcast her upcoming home birth live on the Internet. People are invited to invited to watch Dr. Nancy give birth live on the Internet in order to help women overcome their fears and uncertainty about birth. She wants women to know that "they can do it and that they are powerful." Please read my post at Care2 about the need for prospective mothers to see childbirth and breastfeeding before they experience it and learn more about Nancy and other women who have chosen to make their birth available to the public online.

Ontario Needs Better Access to Midwives

Ontario Association of Midwives

Sometimes birth is a political issue. I saw that last year when I attended a rally in support of midwives in Germany. I am also seeing it now as Canadians advocate for better birth options.

Part of empowering women in the birth process is ensuring that they have access to a range of different options for the location of their birth and their birth attendant. Currently, in Ontario, too few women have access to midwives. Making midwives more accessible to Ontarians, both in hospitals, in midwifery-led birth centres, and in their homes, will help give women a more complete range of options for a normal and natural birth close to home.

With the election coming up in just a few days, the Ontario Association of Midwives (AOM)  put a series of questions to the parties (can you guess which one didn't respond?). You can find their questions and answers on the AOM website: Where the parties stand.
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Reader Comments (14)

How ironic! I just found her 2nd birth online today and watched it w/ my 2.5 year old to prepare for our home birth coming up in a few weeks!

October 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJen

I live in Ottawa Ontario, and I was lucky. I found out I was pregnant at 5 weeks, called a Midwifery Practice, and got right in. My girlfriend on the other hand had to wait until she was 26 weeks to get a callback from a midwife. Thanks for publishing this article and bringing attention!

October 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKrystle

I remember about a week before I was due with my first, hubby started watching birth videos online, presumably to prepare himself for the role of coach he was going to play. He found one from Nova (PBS?), narrated by JOHN LITHGOW ('nuff said, really) that he watched, then showed to me. When that woman (bless her) started screaming, I lost it. Ran from the room shouting that I wanted a c-section and that I was too posh to push. Complete hormonal-induced meltdown ensued. The reality is that every one's birth experience is different, but ALL are moving. I'm not sure one can ever really prepare for something so powerful. I think there are some things in the world that you just can't research, you must experience to fully understand. I might be concerned that if my experience doesn't match what I saw, it might invalidate my birth story somehow.

All that said, I am in favour of providing expectant mothers as much information (and OPTIONS!) as they would like. I remember wishing that I had more information about what happens AFTER the birth than what happens DURING the birth. I felt unprepared for those first 6 weeks, especially for how challenging breastfeeding would prove to be (for me).

October 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTara

Midwives also need pay equity (you can read more about it on the link you provided to ontariomidwives.ca) The burnout rate for midwives is quite high - and no wonder!! Low pay and a crazy work schedule does not provide much balance. And many midwives have families of their own. What we need is a maternity care system in which ALL low-risk pregnancies are followed by midwives - and then we should be offering a choice for home, hospital or birth centre locations. The money we would save by doing this would be HUGE. The first steps should be to train/hire more midwives, pay them better, and build them some birth centres!

October 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

I never saw a birth until I was nearly through my pregnancy with my 2nd baby. I do wish I had. I really wasn't that informed going into my 1st birth; though I thought I was. I thought birth was always a natural & easy process - all of the women in my life had easy, quick, complication-free births (including a vaginal breech birth) - so I was unprepared for the pain and the stress and the complications involved with my own 1st birth. Because I hadn't researched c-sections or pain medications, I was unprepared when it came to be making mid-labor decisions about these things. I didn't have a doula the first time around b/c I didn't see a need - birth was simple & easy, right?

Childbirth is a huge part of many womens' lives, it shouldn't be left to an afterthought, yet it often is. So much emphasis is placed on the pregnancy, and then on the newborn, that the act of giving birth is left without enough time given to learn about and prepare for it.

I really enjoyed the book, Birthing from Within - I'd recommend it to every expecting mother.

October 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkelly @kellynaturally

I planned a natural birth with my first, after seeing somewhere the stat that 90% of women who practice the Bradley method do manage to have drug-free deliveries. Didn't happen that time as baby was upside-down transverse - C-section instead. Lovely VBAC the second time. I now recommend the book, "Natural Birth the Bradley Way" to all my pregnant friends, even those planning on an epidural, because it has by far the best descriptions of what to expect from labor that I found (had not come across Birthing from Within), as well as offering techniques for managing early labor which are helpful all the way through, or pre-epi if that's the option someone has chosen. Birth can definitely be scary, but I really felt well-prepared having read that book, and was anticipating with pleasure (and realism) what would transpire. I also really appreciated that they did not equate birth with pain as so many are led to expect.

October 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNico

My first birth was totally non-scary right up until it went wrong; until then I thought birth was fairly quick, natural, something my body can handle. After weeks of contractions and then 24 hours in the birthing centre, I was significantly less convinced, and ARM, syntocin, epis followed.

My third was terrifying but went really well and baby was born at home.

October 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAilbhe

I think the videos that pregnant women see to prepare for birth can have a big impact on them. I remember that when I was expecting my first, my childbirth educator showed me videos in which women gave birth naturally. In all the videos, the women were clearly in a lot of pain but were not particularly afraid or out of control. And my birth was exactly that - contractions were painful but I felt safe and right the whole time.
Later I learned that many friends of mine had seen very different types of videos - often videos in which women are screaming and desperate until they are given the epidural. And that's often how their births turned out, too.

October 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChanna

I was scared of my first birth. I had seen natural births on video/online and read tons of birth stories, but I was still scared. Mostly it was fear of the unknown, what would happen and what it would feel like. To a certain extent, I think some women will always experience that fear. That's one of the reason why having a great support team is so important. But I don't think my fear really impacted my birth (even though I had a typical cascade of interventions type birth - but this was brought on by a variety of factors, including severe dehydration/uncontrollable vomiting). The second time around I felt completely calm. I had a better plan, and already knew approximately what it would be like, even though I wanted a different experience. The best book I came across was the Big Book of Birth, which isn't big, but the clearest and best description of physiological labor I've ever come across. It privileges normal birth but also talks about interventions in a completely neutral way. I wish I had done less NCB reading and more reading like this before #1, because sometimes even when you aren't planning it, interventions happen, and knowing more about them can help you make informed choices. (My second birth was beautiful - very calm and relaxed and confident birth, and I had supporting me a friend who doesn't have children but who wants to have them, and I was so happy that she got to witness a peaceful intervention-free birth.)

October 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterErin

When I was 4 weeks pregnant I called 3 local midwifery groups to "get in". 1 was full, 1 said they had room but were saving the spots for repeat clients. The 3rd had room but said it was their last spot. Crazy that it filled up that fast when I called basically the moment the sperm met the egg. I hope that with the results of the election there will be more money put into midwives so that more people have more access to them.

October 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJen

I was terrified of birth, but then I read "Childbirth Without Fear" by Dick Grantley-Read and it completely, radically, changed my thinking. It's a bit textbook like and looks very dry but I implore any pregnant ladies out there to look past that and give it a go - it helped me completely change my outlook and embrace the process and actually even look forward to it! My birth didn't go 100% smoothly but I still look back on it as a wonderful wonderful life-affirming experience I went through. He's a great advocate of the wonder of childbirth and it's just so inspiring :-)

October 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLeah Taylor

I agree, I read Birthing from Within while preparing for my second birth and now highly recommend it to other expectant mothers. Even though I didn't do any of the birth art :)

October 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

There is a UK documentary series called "One Born Every Minute" that is brilliant. It is in its second series now I think. It follows 2-3 midwife-led, hospital birth stories every episode - there are cameras all over the hospital. You get a wide range of stories and people. I love the fact that every single birth is completely different but they have one thing in common: after baby is born, mum and dad cannot take their eyes off bub for even a second no matter what is going on around them. It is just beautiful to watch and I end up crying every bloody episode without fail. I have recommended it to a number of pregnant friends.

I was wary of what could go wrong with birth when I was preparing to have my daughter but had confidence that I'd make it through whatever came up. My biggest fear was tearing badly, I had a medium tear which wasn't pleasant but was not what I feared (permanent damage and issues with bodily functions - I had read some awful stories). I actually had more fears after the birth about things like SIDS. I had never seen a birth before giving birth myself and had no particular desire to do so, I would have liked to have seen the series I mentioned above though. I think it would have been a good way of seeing that everyone does it their own way and not to be embarrassed about anything at all.

October 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

Hi there! Thank you for posting about the importance of knowing your birth options... and, therefore, sharing about the importance of midwives world wide. More than 58 countries lack enough qualified midwives to provide timely access to skilled healthcare for mothers and infants. Our solution, at Midwife International, is to train midwives who are equipped to work in resource-constrained regions where maternal and child mortality is high and the need for professional midwives is greatest. For more information, please visit: http://midwifeinternational.org/midwife-training/.

Thanks for all that you do!

August 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMidwife International

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