As perinatal professionals, we derive our information from a variety of sources: our mentors, books, journals, videos and the print/electronic media. We mature in both experience and in our beliefs. We also mature in our birth spirit.
Birthing history shows that whenever there are large advances in medical technology, several years later, there is a rebellion or movement back to the "natural" way of birthing. One of the most noticeable "rebellions" lasted nearly three decades, from 1950 to the late 1970's. During these times, names such as Lamaze, Dick-Read, Bradley surfaced. All of these famous men, in their own special way, reinforced the fact that women were made to birth and have the power within them to birth. Yes, there may be times when technology is a useful tool, but it should not be a crutch or a routine. During this time, organizations such as AAHCC, ICEA and ASPO/Lamaze (now Lamaze International) certified hundreds of childbirth educators. It was hoped that these educators would help women, in a very mobile society, rediscover the instincts of birth, reestablish ties with other women in their families, and discover the empowerment of birth.
It took a while, but soon the Rationalists began to move in. They slowly and steadily introduced technology in a variety of ways so that educators fell into the habit of trying to see the good in all technology at the expense of women and infants. This is called gradualism and it is very active in the medical community today. In spite of routine, continuous fetal monitoring, early inductions (with or without Cytotec), epidurals, and a rising cesarean rate, our maternal and infant mortality and morbidity rates have not improved. In some areas of the country, infants are being moved back to the nurseries and "rooming-in" is becoming old fashioned and too risky. And what is so very disturbing is that there is a whole generation of Rationalists who fail to see the realities in the medical research and literature. Why, just reading one of Henci Goer's books would be enough to change anyone's opinion!
Have you become desensitized by the birth shows on TV or lay magazines or co-opted educators who feel childbirth education is simply the regurgitation of hospital policies during an evening class? Are you dulled by the gradualism happening in today's birth environment? While I am NOT suggesting that all women can birth vaginally and without medication, I AM suggesting that women, irrespective of medical conditions, should be empowered to try. And those same women should FEEL empowered and supported to try.
Search your inner barometer. Experience will lead a doula to the point where she will be able to "read" a laboring mother within five minutes or so of entering a labor environment. She can empower her client to assume physiologic positions that will enhance labor and enable the laboring woman and her support to have the best birth experience possible. Experience will teach the childbirth educator that teaching options and having the consumer ask for those options is the only way change will take place. Both the doula and educator know that there is strength in numbers and when there is a community of professionals who is organized and like-minded, the village will come out and support each other!
Take steps to renew your spirit today!