As a positive birth group, we think it’s important that women’s decisions and choices are paramount. We believe there’s no such thing as a perfect birth but rather a positive birth requires only that women be respected as the power holders in their own births.
We also believe in order to make the decisions they need to make about the care they receive during pregnancy, labour and birth they have the right to have all the information about the risks and benefits without bias.
We often find that women are not encouraged to ask questions of their care providers but rather to just go along with the usual procedures without question. We aim to gently and positively encourage women and their partners that it’s not only ok but actually a really good idea to ask questions and take responsibility for what they choose to accept or decline of what is on offer to them.
Here’s a few thoughts from Lucy’s blog to read more find it here
“…yeah, just ask for an epidural and all the drugs…………………I’m sure then it’ll be fine….”
I was standing in the queue at the parcel collection office, two women in their early 20s were chatting, and I overheard this snippet. It made me think. I know many women are fearful of labour and childbirth. What I question is why so many are fearful of a natural process, a beautiful journey that sees the interplay between mother and baby unfold so powerfully that it results in the birth of a new soul and the emergence of a mother. And yet, they are not fearful of accepting synthetic painkillers and accept epidurals without asking the risks involved. Many women ask for epidural in the belief it will make childbirth easier. What they are not told is that it can inhibit their production of oxytocin, which can reduce the effectiveness of uterine contractions, therefore making labour longer.
Women are afraid of the great unknown of labour & birth that has been the norm of human existence for thousands of years, and yet perfectly prepared to accept medical intervention that has existed for mere decades without realising they may not have all the information they need to make that decision.
It is time that we encouraged all mothers to know what medical interventions mean – not simply how they may *benefit* the mother, but how they may affect her in other ways.
Until we ensure that women are presented with the risks as well as the *benefits* of intervention, there is no such thing as freedom in birth, no such thing as informed choice for pregnant, labouring, birthing women.
Don’t be afraid of what we know – that women have survived & even relished labour and childbirth for millennia. Be afraid of what you don’t know when offered drugs that will make it *easier*.
Want to find out more – these are some good places to start…
If you are wondering why we are so excited about planning a conference the answer is because we know how refreshing a whole day listening and thinking about how to better support women and families can be. Here's a taste of the enthusiasm we have felt at the conferences that have come before this one from Vikki's blog:
This weekend something A.Mazing happened. I attended a Home Birth Conference and met some truly inspirational women. Sheena Byrom, Hannah Doe and Clara Haken were all speaking about so many important aspects of the care we give to women in pregnancy and the influences that surround us. There was for me, a very special speaker. Someone I have admired for over 20 years, Ina May Gaskin.
I bought her books in 1995 and she has without doubt been the single, greatest influence on my birthy path in life. And this weekend i got to wee in the SAME toilet as her. This was not the highlight, don’t worry too much for my mental state. I also TOUCHED HER ARM. It’s ok, i’m just about getting a grip. I have a picture of myself with her and an equally star struck mate, Elizabeth . We look like total geeks.
I have handed out my copies of Spiritual Midwifery and her Guide to Childbirth to each and every one of my pregnant friends over the years because they are by and away the most positive birth books you can read. They are full of such empowering stories of strong birthing women. Ironically, both my copies are currently loaned out to those in need and so i had to purchase a shiny new book of hers so that i could come away with a signature (Of COURSE it was necessary). I read Spiritual Midwifery and immediately wanted to move to The Farm (a commune in Tennessee) and become a midwife or have 10 babies. I did a bit of both.
The message that resonated out of the Home Birth conference was one of the very real need to share the positivity. Tell the positive stories, say them over and over again. To anyone who’ll listen. Saturate the world with them so that women hear all about how birth can be a great and positive experience. Milli Hill has set up The Positive Birth Movement with the sole purpose of doing just this. “Birth works” said Ina May at the conference and that woman knows what she’s talking about.
It’s our passion that women (and their partners and families) have the chance to feel positive about their pregnancy, their birth and having and caring for a new baby.
But we also find very often people expect that we support ‘natural’ birth, or ‘drug free’ birth or home birth. Maybe that’s because we’re also fond of saying we believe in women and their bodies. So, let’s just get this straightened out.
What do Positive Birth Portsmouth members really mean by positive birth?
There are as many answers to that as there are people who you ask the question but here’s a selection.
“It's not about where or how she births, it is about feeling loved, heard, informed, supported and honoured.”
“A positive birth is one where you feel you had choices and support making and upholding those choices.”
"Positive birth happens when women are able to be free from unnecessary fear and feel empowered to own their own pregnancies and births. Supporting each other is often an important part of having a positive birth"
"Positive birth happens when women are empowered to be the authors of their own birth stories."
“Birth is something women should look forward to. I did! I'm totally committed to making sure women have the BEST birth experience for them.”
“Free of fear, supported by the ones you love…”
“Positive birth means knowing you have choices, knowing you don’t have to just ‘do what you’re told’ making informed decisions and being supported in them.”
“Positive birth is one where you make your own choices and everyone caring for your respects and supports those decisions.”
“...every woman and every child born are given the best opportunity to have a healthy and happy experience.”
That's a lot of thoughts what's the number one thing that makes a birth positive?
The main theme is that a positive birth is one where you know your choices, have all the information you need and feel supported in those choices. As a group, we don’t offer advice unless it is this, do your research and make your own choice. We think it’s important that no one opinion is more valuable than another we listen to the whole story of how you feel, to what it’s like to be you and to why you make the choices you make and we support you to make the choices you want to make with all the information you need. Then we stand behind you as you confidently insist that your choices for your own birth are respected and listened to.
So we do believe in your body and your ability to birth, but your ability to birth as you choose to do, not valuing any choice above another.
Why can't we just go with the flow, birth can't be predicted so why build up your hopes?
Yes it's true birth in unpredictable but preparing for a positive birth means being prepared for the flow to change but knowing you still have choices and birth is something you're ding not something that's happening to you.
We also know that many women have been taught to fear birth through the messages in the media and the horror stories they have been old since they found out they were pregnant (and sadly sometimes through previous experiences). But more than that, we know this doesn’t have to be the way, that we can provide an atmosphere of sharing between women where the positive stories of how amazing it is to work with your body and be supported through such an overwhelming experience and make your own choices and meet your own baby can be shared. The more we share stories of positive birth experiences the more women will be able to know that could also be their experience and go on to have their own positive birth. We find most women will be surprised with how not scary after all labour and birth can be and how when given a positive environment their body's do just work.
We also find that even when birth doesn’t go smoothly with support and informed choices women can still find it’s a positive experience. You can have a positive homebirth, positive water birth, positive birth centre birth, positive birth on labour ward, positive epidural birth, positive assisted birth, positive c-section. As long as each of these things happens in an atmosphere where you know you are supported and your decisions are yours alone and are the best ones for you on that day.