There are many interventions prevalent in childbirth today. The epidural, the cesarean, the IV, even vaginal exams could all be considered interventions. Yet we rarely realize the impact that PEOPLE can have on our birth even though they are some of the most important interventions of all.
There is a long list of people who you may want or need at your birth. Doctors, nurses, midwives, doulas, partner, husband, mother, sister, best friend, photographer – the list goes on and on.
We should carefully think about the presence of these people at our birth, just as we carefully consider if we will have an epidural for pain management or Pitocin to speed our labor. I truly believe that these people can cause labor to take longer, make mom feel supported or traumatized, and do so much to impact the actual birth and the memory of it.
Every person at your birth is an intervention.
That doesn’t make people a bad intervention – they may be incredibly necessary. It just means we must recognize the power they have in our birth space.
Let’s consider some of the people that may be present at birth.
Most modern women simply expect their partner to be there at their birth. I can’t imagine giving birth without my husband there. Experiencing birth together was truly sacred and has served to be a positive memory among hard times that inevitably come.
A partner can be a negative intervention though, especially if they are frightened or otherwise totally unprepared. This is partly why I am so passionate about childbirth education for couples. The partner really makes a difference no matter what. I want them to be a positive intervention.
Having my own four kids and being a part of dozens and dozens of birth journeys as a educator has made it clear that there are often a lot of feelings involved in families. Sometimes family, (mom, dad, in laws, sisters, etc) are respectful and open to whatever the birthing family desires.
Other times they expect to be there at the birth, invited or not.
They can be an amazing addition. They can also be awful, serving to slow labor and make an intimate event feel like a Broadway show where you better perform.
Carefully consider who you invite and remember that the coming years as a parent may require many more instances where you make choices that are best for your child, but which make your family uncomfortable or offended.
Best to get used to it now.
Having siblings at the birth can be an incredible family experience. It can help normalize birth for the next generation and ease the transition from a smaller family to a larger one.
I do believe that those children should be prepared for the birth with a good sibling birth class. Most kids today don’t grow up on a farm watching the animals give birth. For them, this is a totally foreign event as are the noises and positions of normal birth.
Prepare your kids and be flexible. They may not want to be there or you may feel like you need some space. There isn’t a wrong answer here.
I encourage birthing couples to hire an amazing doula for their birth. Her presence can be incredibly helpful. There is great comfort in a nurturing female presence at birth who knows you and respects your wishes.
I would also encourage all to carefully interview that doula and make sure that she meets with both people in the relationship. Your doula isn’t just for mom! She is for the partner as well. Make sure she is a positive presence.
Through the years I have noticed that one of the most anxiety filled unknowns of childbirth is not knowing who your care provider will be at your birth. Most hospital practices rotate call, some within a very large group. This can mean that you may have never met the person who attends your delivery.
Knowing that the practice as a whole is respectful of your birth wishes may be the best you can do in ensuring that the care provider at your birth is a positive intervention.
For some, the choice to birth outside the hospital in a birth center or at home is the best choice to ease fear and ensure a positive birth environment.
Nurses are incredibly hard working people and most of them are awesome. Sometimes though, people get a nurse who just doesn’t jive with them. That is OK. It happens. Don’t be afraid to ask for someone different.
This birth only happens once.
Advocate for what you need.
I so appreciate women that are willing to film or photograph and share their birth with the world. I think these images are so helpful in normalizing birth. But your birth photographer isn’t a benign presence. They can be a positive or negative intervention as well. Choose someone you love not just for their work, but for them.
When we prepare for birth and write a birth plan, we shouldn’t just think about eye ointment and avoiding a cascade of interventions. We have to honest and consider that people at our birth are never neutral. They are with you or against you.
Who do you want on your team? Who will help you produce oxytocin and who will make you nervous or scared?
Will the people you have invited to your birth be a positive force or a negative intervention?
Take the time to answer this question alone and with your partner. Protect your birth space. You won’t regret it.
Photo credits: koadmunkee via Foter.com / CC BY, nateOne via Foter.com / CC BY, Felipe Fernandes Photography via Foter.com / CC BY-SA, David Swift Photography Thanks for 14 million view via Foter.com / CC BY