birth, labour, reflections

Leave the clock behind

As a pregnant woman, surrounded by a birth culture that is obsessed with monitoring the progress of labour, it is hard not to focus on how long labour has lasted and how long and frequent your contractions are.

Yet it appears to me that the habit of ‘watching the clock’ from the first rhythmic twinges of early labour can make the process seem long, drawn out and eventually exhausting.

timing-contractions

Every woman’s labour is different to the next and the effacement and dilation of the cervix can happen in fits and starts rather than along a predictable curve, so even if you are closely timing your labour it doesn’t mean you know how far you’ve come or how far you have to go, which is ultimately what all women long to know.

In the world of birth, you hear a lot about long labours, fatigue and lack of progress, which then lead to interventions such as the use of synthetic oxytocin to speed up the labour or epidural anasthesia to enable a mother, who has been labouring for many hours, to rest .

But what if our image and expectations of labour were different? What if, instead of watching the clock or the smartphone app to time contractions, a woman in the early stirrings of labour set her mind on some other absorbing task? Continue reading “Leave the clock behind”

birth, labour, pregnancy, reflections

Why trust in birth?

Diving into Pam England’s latest book, Ancient Map for Modern Birth, I was faced with a section on the notion of trust in the realm of pregnancy, birth and post-partum, which urged me to unpick the phrase ‘I Trust in Birth’ – the name for our doula service.

The words ‘I Trust in Birth’ surfaced, as an affirmation for myself as an embryonic doula, in a session with a pregnant couple preparing for the arrival of their first child. The phrase encapsulated the faith in myself and other women to be able to give birth in their own natural way, given the right preparation and environment. My friend, who was my doula at my first two births, had embodied that unswerving trust in my ability to birth and I found it contagious. In both births, the staunch belief that she held in me helped me navigate some tricky twists and turns in events where I otherwise might have faltered. Continue reading “Why trust in birth?”

birth, labour

Toques: Ferramenta útil ou intervenção desnecessaria? / Vaginal exams: Useful tool or unnecessary intervention?

Inserir os dedos na vagina de uma mulher deve ser uma das formas mais íntimas ou invasivas de tocar o corpo de uma mulher. Ainda assim, este continua a ser o método mais utilizado para determinar a progressão do trabalho de parto.

Existem de facto muitas maneiras para uma parteira avaliar o quanto o trabalho de parto de uma mulher já progrediu, tais como:

  • escutar os sons que ela faz;
  • sentir o odor presente na divisão;
  • verificar a linha púrpura que pode surgir na pele entre as nádegas;
  • notar como a mulher está a interagir com os que a rodeiam.

Continuar a ler este artigo na Vida Ativa.

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Inserting one’s fingers into a woman’s vagina must be one of the most intimate or invasive ways to touch a woman’s body. And yet, this continues to be the most commonly used method of assessing a woman’s progress in labour.

There are in fact many ways that a midwife can assess how far a woman’s labour has progressed, such as: listening to the sounds she makes; observing the smell in the room; checking for the purple line that may rise on the skin between the buttocks or simply noticing how the woman is interacting with those around her.
As well as being an invasive and sometimes painful procedure that may make a labouring woman feel uncomfortable or tense at a time when she needs to feel relaxed and at ease, vaginal exams (VEs) can be problematic for a number of reasons.

Continue reading “Toques: Ferramenta útil ou intervenção desnecessaria? / Vaginal exams: Useful tool or unnecessary intervention?”

birth

Ajudar é não perturbar / To help is to not disturb

Originally published on umamaenasceu.org

English version below

«O parto é um processo fisiológico involuntário; não pode ser ajudado, mas pode ser perturbado.» – Michel Odent (citado de memória do curso Paramana Doula, Janeiro de 2011).

Enquanto que algumas pessoas afirmem que para muitos de nós humanos, o parto pode ser um evento emocional e espiritual, este é incontestavelmente um acto fisiológico.

Muitas vezes falamos de mulheres que são «assistidas» no processo de dar à luz ou mesmo é utilizada a frase «o dr. X fez o parto». Mas como a citação de Michel Odent demonstra, é enganador pensar ou dizer que uma mulher pode ser ajudada a dar à luz. De facto, assumir essa perspectiva pode mesmo causar mais problemas do que trazer resultados positivos.

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Pelo contrário, talvez seja mais seguro afirmar que a melhor forma como podemos apoiar um parto é ajudando a criar as condições nas quais as mudanças fisiológicas necessárias possam acontecer no corpo feminino. Isto significa limitar as perturbações que interferem com estes processos.

De forma a fazer isto, é necessário ter um conhecimento básico da fisiologia do parto.

Continue reading “Ajudar é não perturbar / To help is to not disturb”