Inspired by Beyoncé – How to find out about birth choices, and birth with privacy and autonomy
Hello and welcome, Tricia Murray here from The Birth and Baby Academy.
Hello, I’m Tricia Murray. I live in Edinburgh. I’m the owner of the Birth and Baby Academy, which is a new online community for Mums and Dads to be, to support them for birth and parenting, so that they feel calm and confident, and have a much better start to their parenting journey.
At the end of this session, I would like to you to go to download the Resources Bundle (which includes 101 Questions About Birth).
This is a free tool for you to use to get you really thinking about all the different questions that you need to consider so that you can prepare positively for your birth experience.
So, let’s get into the topic in a bit more detail. Today we are talking about How to find out about birth choices, and birth with privacy and autonomy.
Beyoncé as an Example
Today, inspired by Beyoncé’s recent birth, I want to talk all about birth choices and specifically how to make birth choices and how to make them autonomously and look at privacy.
I’d like to acknowledge the fact that she still hasn’t announced to the world what it is that she’s had, when she had or how she had her babies. I think that that’s absolutely amazing in this day and age. The fact is that we haven’t really known anything the whole time. It has been phenomenal that she has managed to protect her privacy in that way. That is quite fundamental in terms of a positive birth.
Suffering from Scrutiny
One of the issues that so many women and men have is that when they fall pregnant, is that they start to become under the scrutiny of everybody around us. That includes your Mum, your Granny, your sister, your friend. Whoever it is, everybody’s got some sort of an opinion or some sort of a judgement about how you’re going to give birth, where you’re going to give birth.
You hear so many people say, “Off you go, go get that epidural”, “Oh you want to have a home birth? What on Earth are you doing trying to have a home birth? Oh, my goodness, why would you do that?”, or when women are under scrutiny for choosing to have a caesarean.
So, I really respect Beyoncé and parents like her for exercising their right to privacy. It means then in a lot of ways that you only really have yourself to please and you’re not going to have that constant voice of judgement in that back of your head.
Birth in the Digital Age
Also, around privacy, there’s so much on social media with people announcing when they have literally just given birth, using their phones in the birth room.
With the clients that I’ve worked with, it’s not been so bad because we have had that chat about phones in the birth room beforehand because they are really interrupting to have them in that space.
I’ve heard stories of people posting on Instagram or Facebook about their babies’ arriving and the placenta is still inside the Mum. She’s not delivered the placenta yet!
I do think that we are in a certain age where we are constantly announcing everything on social media, so I think it’s great that she’s not done that yet and she’s choosing to do that in her own way in her own time. It’s because of that, I’ve got huge respect for her!
Autonomy in Birth
A lot of the time I work with women who want to mainly have vaginal births, but I also work a fair bit with women who are opting to have a caesarean birth, for whatever reason that they are planning to do so, and I think that that it’s amazing that people can autonomously make those decisions for themselves.
So, other things that you might want to make autonomous decisions around are pain relief, looking at all the various ways that this can be done.
Without a doubt, women experience a level of pain or intensity or whatever you want to call it. Some people call it surges. My friend Bea calls it this amazing life force that went through her body. Lots of different people call it lots of different things. Many women have different sensations and it’s great if they can have ways to manage that.
There are of course a lot of natural ways that we can manage pain. There’s movement, there’s breathing, there’s water, there’s using scripts and visualisations to manage it. And of course, there’s anaesthetics that we can use to manage it too.
We’re so grateful to have access to all of these different ways to manage pain. That is one of our birth choices and one of the main things to consider.
There’s also who you want to be there with you at the time of birth. A lot of people want it to be their partners, but other people choose their friends or their Mum’s or a Doula or just somebody else who they have that they know will have a really positive influence in terms of having them calm and positive in their birth experience.
There are a lot of other things to think about when making our birth choices. What happens to the placenta, do we want immediate skin to skin, do we want the baby washed afterwards?
There are all sorts of things that we need to make decisions on but we can only to that when we start to understand birth and the primal process of birth and how we can birth primally within a medically managed model. That’s one of the things that we will talk about in a wee while – about how to navigate that in terms of your birth choices.
Navigating the Science and the System
One of my favourite ways of making birth choices is through using a thing called BRAINS. It looks a what the benefits and risks are, what the alternatives are, what the mother’s instinct is saying. Can we do nothing and what does the science behind it say?
One of the things that we will find through that is that a mother’s instinct is one the strongest tools that we can use. It has never ever failed once yet. She knows exactly what it is that she needs to do. She knows if everything is going well with the baby, but she also knows if things aren’t going well with the baby. It’s never ever failed me – how strong a mother’s instinct and intuition is.
In BRAINS, S stands for science, and that is something that is very limited in areas because it is so hard to get ethical approval and funding for strong science. So, while we have protocols and guidelines that hospital use, sometimes some of the science behind them is actually dated or of low quality.
Something that you can always do is ask your healthcare professionals is to get access to the science to find out what’s behind the protocols. I think that going back to that extra science and really spending time there to do that is a really positive thing to do to make sure that you feel confident in the decision that you are making.
Rethinking Our Perspectives
One of the things that I am never surprised about is when I go and see medical professionals with clients, is that they often use quite negative language. And quite often what we might hear from the medical team is that “We won’t allow you. We won’t allow you to birth at home. We won’t allow you not to have continuous monitoring”.
Actually, we need to turn that dialogue around on its head because actually for the woman, she doesn’t need to let anyone do anything to her at any point in time in that birth and in the whole antenatal period. She doesn’t need to take any of the tests, she doesn’t need to take any of the examinations, she doesn’t need to take anything.
Now, I’m not suggesting for a moment that women don’t do that, but I think we need to reverse how we see things in the medical system, so that women can understand that it’s actually always up to them to consent to anything that’s happening to them.
Any appointment, any procedure, any discussion. If you are consenting to be part of that, then I really think that that dialogue and how we see that culturally needs to be flipped around.
Culturally for so many years, it’s been the medical system that’s dictated to women what is happening. So, a woman falls pregnant and immediately she is expected to go and see the midwife, speak to the GP, start working with the midwifery team, maybe has to go and see the consultant, the moment she does into labour she has to phone up triage, she has to go to triage. You know, all of these steps, and did you hear what I said? She has to.
That’s very much what we believe culturally needs to happen. But actually, we need to change the terminology around. Actually, the woman chooses. The woman chooses to go and see the doctor. The woman chooses to do and see the midwife. The woman chooses to go and see the consultant. The woman chooses to go and birth in hospital.
The woman is absolutely autonomous in all of these choices and that’s the way that we need to start seeing this.
What are you going to commit to today?
If you would like more information about how to make your birth choices, you can go and download the Resources Bundle (which includes 101 Questions About Birth) now. Any parent-to-be who works their way through that will have a really positive birth, because that will lead you to all of the right places to really get yourself informed and make the right autonomous choices for you.
Scroll down and leave a comment. Tell me what you think. It could help a lot of others in the same boat.
It’s your turn to learn how to relax deeply, learn wisely and experience a much better birth.