Writing this blog compelled by today's headlines saying the NHS loses 29 midwives for every 30 that it trains. That's is a shocker at so many levels.
What frustrates me more than anything - and fills me with rage and sadness - is that there is this idea that we need to get midwives to do MORE. To deal with birthing women QUICKER. Because this shines the light on everything that is wrong with the way we see birth in our culture - and ridiculously results in higher costs for the NHS, which is what they are trying to avoid in the first place!!
Rushing birth is bad news. Full stop. It is a matter of FACT, not woo, that to birth like nature intended - i.e. where we are able to surrender to our body and therefore cope in ways we may not be able to imagine with this life-changing experience and any pain that there is - women need to be given the time they need and a space of calm support.
There is no point training more and more midwives, if we don't start considering how we best support birthing women in a way that allows them to birth in the natural way most women can. Because this is what most midwives want too; all the midwives I have spoken to are desperately unhappy (and leaving) because they cannot provide the care they want to provide and know the women need.
And no, this is not a militant statement about all-natural births being the only right, and medical interventions being all wrong - hurrah that we have access to medical care when it is truly required! But there is evidence wherever you choose to look that in the vast majority of cases, women who are given the support and education they need go on to have positive births that are drug-free and require less or no intervention at all.
An ever-faster conveyor belt approach will leave us with not only fewer midwives and an exacerbated problem, but also with women labouring for longer and needing more medical interventions - which of course will result in more birth trauma, and higher costs for the NHS.
There are medical emergencies and there are very sad outcomes, but the risk needs to be put into perspective and also acknowledge that life is, inherently, risky. How we support, hold space, guide and care for women, men, parents through these times is where our attention should be.
To really address this crisis there needs to be a cultural shift in how we view birth; not as a medical emergency but as wonderful, life-changing, natural event. And this shift starts with each one of us.
If you are pregnant, know that this is NOT a time for you to surrender to your caregivers, who sadly are less and less able to do much more than tick through boxes. You are not a number, you are not an average, you are not routine. If you don't want to be feel like that is all your are, it is time to take responsibility and grab the steering wheel. How? Learn to reconnect with and trust your instincts, how to get properly informed (not with the conditioned nonsense we are being fed all the time, but with a hypnobirthing course or books from, for example, AIMS), the magic that REALLY happens in the birthing body, and understand that in the event where you do require interventions you still can feel in control and positive - in short INVEST in you birth experience like you would in other life milestones.
By taking responsibility you significantly improve your chances of a positive birthing experience, regardless of how long it takes the Government to get its shit together on this.
Ready to do this? Book on a Blossom Birthing hypnobirthing group course, or a private course - or keep an eye out for news about my super special half day Birth Preparation Retreat coming soon!