Some thoughts on “traditional” approaches to childbirth

The above article by Sandy Smith in The Age last week raises some really interesting points about childbirth. I believe it is important not to “over-medicalise” childbirth for normal healthy women having normal healthy pregnancies but this needs to be balanced against safety for mother and baby bearing in mind that Australia is one of the safest places in the world to give birth.

The issue of birth position is discussed at some length. It is true that the vast majority of women in Australia give birth lying on their backs. For some women this works really well. If you have had an epidural there aren’t that many other options. Birthing in an upright position can be a really good option for those women without epidural. A lot of women find their legs get very tired with squatting during the pushing part of labour but there are plenty of upright or semi-upright positions that can be relatively comfortable and can work really well. Some of these positions allow your partner to be very involved in terms of providing physical support whilst pushing which can be a really lovely experience as a couple during the pushing and birth part of labour. At the end of the day, it is about whatever works best for each woman.

I found the discussion on postnatal care also really interesting. In Western culture there is a strong drive toward independence of the mother and independence of the “nuclear family”. As pointed out this is completely the opposite to what happens in most “traditional” cultures. It is certainly something worth thinking about when planning how you are going to manage the first few weeks at home with your baby.

Finally I feel the need to point out that homebirth in an Australian context, I believe, exposes both mother and baby to an unacceptable and unnecessary degree of risk.