Midwives, Language, The Past, And Our Lives Today……..

I have been thinking a lot recently about studying the impact of language on a woman’s experience of birth. Also the impact that the language we use has on our own experience of doing the things we do and how just small changes in language can enhance a woman’s experience of birth and a midwives experience of being a midwife.

None of us learned to speak consciously, well maybe we did but we don’t remember doing it, all of our major areas of development took place long before we knew we could develop ideas and beliefs about our ‘poor’ ability to learn. Walking, talking, picking up small things with pincer grip finger and thumbs etc.

This process of learning to make senses of the sounds we heard, the situations we found ourselves in, this charting of our experience with words, has left a deep unconscious legacy. We no longer think about how what we say is generated, and the impact it is having on our felt experience. In a nano second we make meaning, using our vast array of stored memories to decide what ‘this’ means to us. The past is framing our current experience always and we have no idea how it is happening.

An Open Letter To Heads Of Midwifery…..

Dear

My name is Mark Harris, I trained as nurse in 1988 and then as a midwife in 1994 (I have attached my CV). I want to run birth preparation classes aimed at male birth partners @Birthing4Blokes (twitter). An outline of what I am proposing to offer in on my website http://www.birthingawareness.com.

It’s only been in the last 40 years or so that men have been ‘allowed’ into the birthing room, now there they often struggle to know what’s required of them, often the literature reports feelings powerlessness and being ‘left out’ by birth professionals. The powerful adrenalin rush they have evolved to produce, often leaves them ‘appearing’ aggressive as they seek to protect the women they love.

It is recognised that men in the birthing room have not generally had good experience of the process. It’s also accepted that if a woman is able to settle her fear and relax into the experience of birthing she is likely to have an improved experience. Birthing For Blokes is the only programme that offers this type of training to men, delivered by a man who is currently a registered midwife, father and granddad.

I would love to come and speak to you about the running the program for your service users please. I know that you are busy and if a telephone conversation is better for please let me know.

Kind regards
Mark Harris RM RGN

ps: below is the rest of the Birthing For Blokes proposal.

A section of the research literature regarding birthing seems to clearly point to the obvious influence of evolutionary process on the hormones that a woman releases while birthing. Odent and others point out that the part of the brain (limbic) responsible for this hormone mix is older than other parts of the brain (neocortex).

This mechanism of release is dependant on a certain mind/body state and is inhibited (in the first stage of the birthing process) by adrenaline in the system. Adrenaline production is predominantly under the control of the neocortex and is stimulated by such things as fear, being watched by others, bright lights, and being asked questions that require thinking to answer. This ‘family’ of hormones is similar to those that make a woman’s sexual climax the experience that it is.

It’s very clear that our current system of care delivery is not sufficiently sensitive to the ancient process evolved to optimise the survival of the human race. The woman and their partners that access our service come from a long line of child producing men and woman, dating back 200,000 years, evidence that people work perfectly, patterns and process tested over such a time span are to be respected and learnt from if woman and their families are to have fulfilling birth experiences.

The Birthing For Blokes programme acknowledges these powerful forces in human reproductive history, and honours the role that men and their hormonal response in the midst of birth have contributed to the survival of the human race till now.

Since female human beings have been birthing upright (200,000), men have probably been responsible for keeping her safe from ‘feelings’ of fear, as well as actual threat of attack. Back when predators threatened the life of their progeny that would have meant fighting a wild animal, now he turns the lights down, guards her privacy and keeps her warm.

The structures of a woman’s brain responsible for the release of the ‘shy’ hormone oxytocin do not yield to ‘thinking’, they can not be talked into working well. A woman in the midst of birthing will enter into an ‘altered state’ of awareness which will enhances her unconscious ability to bathe her body in the ‘hormone sea’ needed for rewarding birth to take place.

It’s only been in the last 40 years or so that men have been ‘allowed’ into the birthing room, now there they often struggle to know what’s required of them, often the literature reports feelings powerlessness and being ‘left out’ by birth professionals. The powerful adrenalin rush they have evolved to produce, often leaves them ‘appearing’ aggressive as they seek to protect the women they love.

Birthing for Blokes teaches men about the ancient birthing adaptations in them and their partners. Along with practical training regarding management of these forces, it trains them in patterns of behaviour that will, when practiced with their partners,enable them to create a context, a safe space for her to relax when birthing starts and therefore be in an optimum mind/body state necessary for birthing to work perfectly.

An outline of the 3 week programme: 2 hours one evening a week.

Week 1: Introduction to each other.
Answering questions men come with.
Teaching the evolutionary biological basis for Birthing for Blokes work.
Setting evaluation frames of reference from the beginning, what can they expect to know and be able to do at the end of the programme?
Introduction of first exercise that enables them to experience a deep state of relaxation.
Giving home experiments to do for next week, these involved in observing partners breathing rates, and body postures when she is relaxing. This is a secret experiment.

Week 2: Review of last weeks teaching.
Review of last weeks experiment, and the discussion following that.
Teaching/demonstration of a bio feed back method of leading another into progressively relaxed states of mind/body, touch relaxation.
Teaching of basic touch massage techniques.
Review of technique taught in week 1 for instant relaxation.
Introduction of the importance of voice, language and music in managing mind/body states.
Setting of experiments for the week. 2 massages (for her) through the week, taking their partners through the touch based progressive relaxation technique taught.

Week 3: Review of last weeks teaching regarding voice, language and music.
Feed back from experiments, and discussion following that.
Teaching regarding contractions, discuss women’s experience of contractions, some videos of women speaking about their births.
Teaching/demonstration of breathing exercise to be practiced with partners before the birthing process starts and then used when it does.
Summary of three weeks teaching.

Note: Birthing For Blokes would want to offer, telephone, Skype, email support from the trainer up to 28 days post birth of baby to the participants of the programme.

Conclusion:

It is recognised that men in the birthing room have not generally had good experience of the process. It’s also accepted that if a woman is able to settle her fear and relax into the experience of birthing she is likely to have an improved experience. Birthing For Blokes is the only programme that offers this type of training to men, delivered by a man who is currently a registered midwife, father and granddad.

Position Matters….

@Birthing4Blokes: ‘A supported squatting position for birth may increase the pelvic outlet by 17%’

The pelvis is not a solid, immovable structure. By time the birthing process starts; ‘Evolution’ has made sure that it can splay open; were that not the case we would be in trouble.

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Up right positions that allow a woman’s legs to open comfortable are to be preferred. ‘Common sense right? Then why do we see so many women on those ghastly reality ‘hospital’ programmes birthing on the bed?

My guess, poor midwifery practice which is the product of sub standard midwifery education. How many midwives have conducting a vaginal examination with the woman standing up within their scope of practice? How many midwives will actively encourage a woman to stand while birthing?

I know there will be midwives reading this that are amazing practitioners of the art, but my guess is we need more!