this little essay was written yesterday for the other thread on pushing, but fits in with the discussion here....
This is one of my favorite topics. I would love to write a treatise about it, but I am too busy being a midwife to do it.
Believing that there is one right way to push, including the belief that only mother-directed pushing is the only right way to give birth, is a dogma. Like all dogmas, it has its limits of correctness....for some, but not others. Like all dogmas, it does not serve birth to hold so tightly to one that you do not see the forest for the trees...that birth is complex and spiraling and demands our ultimate flexibility and elegance in recognizing and learning from its ways.
When one becomes wise in the ways of birth, one sees that there are times when a mama needs a teacher, a guide, a midwife to show her the ropes of pushing....it is one of the things I most like to do at a birth, and one of the reasons I love to do primip births, is because I know that one of my true gifts as a midwife is helping a woman learn to push...sometimes while laying quietly on the rug outside the bathroom,listening to her as she sits on the toilet and feels those first grunty feelings...or sometimes, getting up in her face, making her look right at my eyes and telling her, Mama, you PUSH now...lovebaby must be born, hold your breath, chin to chest, you can do it, two three four breathe!!!!!!
Birth is huge, so certainly big enough to accomodate several right ways to do things...birth works so well that even when we really screw it up with all our dogmas about it, women just have babies really well.
Being a good midwife or doula ( or mother or sister or friend, but I truly feel this is a midwifery matter) is nine-tenths a matter of being an excellent observer and having so much knowlege about birth as to be a good synthsizer of all information coming at you....you KNOW what to do. It comes with experience, and it comes with being able to really know your mamas and to really let birth be birth, which in my opinion best happens at a home birth, where dogmas are limited by only the people in the room and their beleif system about birth. It comes with having the ability to energetically read the woman and her birth's progress...and then to be the orchestra conductor of the symphony that is being played around you.
Often, women need only to gently and lovingly be shown what to do, talked or counted through just a few contractions...and then she will find her own way. IF she loses her way again, in there on those inner planes where she is trying, through pain and exhaustion and all of our expectations of her , to navigate her way through to bring this baby out of her very deepest place...IF that happens, then I hope she has a good midwife to gently lead her again, with ideas and position changes and support and direction, toward reaching her goal.
My job as a midwife is to utilize all my skills, my intuition, my experience to help her find the key that unlocks that magic door. (Midwife does not mean sit on your hands) If I sometimes have to count it out for her, I can do it without shouting or purple pushing or making my dogma central to her experience either way. I can roll with what needs to be done and do it.
I think most of my first time mamas love having me midwife them this way, and then after that, they know birth as well as I do. Next time, they will find their way differently. I hope to be there with them again, witnessing them, assisting them.