Nice article….”Birth is no time for war stories”

The above article by Tara Moss was published in the SMH on Saturday 23rd June. It provides a nicely balanced discussion around some of the issues confronting pregnant women as they approach birth – especially the birth of their first child.

Ms Moss very nicely explains what has always seemed to me the rather bizarre social practice of women unloading their catastrophic birth stories onto other pregnant women. I am not sure whether this serves as some type of therapy for the women who have suffered these traumas but it is certainly of no benefit to the recipients. In fact it often only serves to promote fear and anxiety, and mostly this is entirely unwarranted.

“Calmbirth” is mentioned in the article by Ms Moss and she explains that she found this approach very helpful for her own labour and birth. I have also cared for many women who have found Calmbirth very helpful in managing labour and birth, but there are many other resources out there also. Many women I care for attend “Powerbirth” and again the results are often very positive. There are also many books outlining approaches along similar lines. The common theme is about giving women the tools and resources to enable them to feel more confident and relaxed (hopefully less fearful) about managing the challenge of labour and birth, as Ms Moss states – not merely surviving it.

It is ironic that there appears to be an ever increasing level of anxiety about pregnancy and childbirth, and yet looking at the facts, it is a little hard to understand why. Women have never been physically fitter and healthier than they are now – not in the entire history of our species. Again, in the history of humanity it has never been safer for both mother and baby to give birth. And in fact there are very few places in the world that have lower rates of serious complications associated with pregnancy or birth for either mother or baby than Australia. Finally, women have never had more choice and more control over their pregnancy and birth options. Choice of care options, birth options, pain relief options all underpinned by a very high level of safety (exception: I am personally of the view that homebirth in Australia exposes both mother and baby to an unnecessary degree of risk).

After having been involved in literally thousands of pregnancies, labours and births I can honestly say that no two pregnancies, labours or births are the same. So, if you have a war story of your own, please think twice before you decide to share it with a woman who is pregnant and if someone insists on sharing their traumatic story with you, be assured that your story will be your story and it will be different from everybody elses.