Transforming Birth Cultures ? Getting to a group yes……..

Nothing has changed much in 20 years really. Feels a little harsh saying that, but looking back we still have home birth rates under 5 %, there are still women told to hold their breath and push as their legs are put into the lithotomy position. 

As I read that last paragraph I realise that what I call positive change, another midwife might not. 

I speak to enough student midwives to know that all the practices I considered out dated back in 1991 are still going on, ‘guarding the perineum’, ‘flexing the head’, ‘breath holding with pushing’ ‘episiotomy to avoid an extensive tear’ etc etc etc 

Firstly, I notice that the measures I use to decide how far our birth culture has moved are rooted in my own beliefs about what’s ‘good’ and ‘right’ midwifery practice. 

That’s right, I believe in them.  

‘Evidence’ in the world of health care is never to be beloved, it’s to be tested. The fruit of a robustly designed RCT never arrives at ‘True’, the best that can be expected is a ‘finding’ that points to ‘correlation’ between effects. 

When ‘evidence’ is ‘believed’ there is always the possibility of the ‘faith’ in the ‘evidence’ morphing into a polarisation of the arguments, resulting in deep listening becoming impossible. 

When faith replaces testing as a response to evidence, moralising is not a giant step away, and the resulting personal attacks on those who differ from us is a natural progression. 

What could some of the answers be to this dilemma that we find ourselves in? 

Few birth professional would disagree that our birth culture needs transformation. 

I know in my own experience, that becoming aware of those areas of ‘professional birth practice’ where I have developed a ‘belief’ are a good place to start a self reflection practice. 

When some one says or does something that causes a visceral response in me, you know the experience, you read a tweet, watch a Facebook link and feel like you want to punch someone in the mouth😔, those experiences have become like ‘flashing lights on the dash board’ to me.

I have a list of them, my powerful response has become a prompt to look deeper, what are they saying that I have missed?

I’m not a Micheal Jackson fan, but he wasn’t far wrong when he pointed us to the mirror as our starting place.  


One thought on “Transforming Birth Cultures ? Getting to a group yes……..

  1. Completely agree Mark. Looking at the recent stats and Walk the Patch remarks from women who have recently birthed at out local unit is very depressing stuff, especially with regards to language and communication by care givers to women both before and after their births. People hide behind terms such as “evidence based” and often won’t actually listen to what women are saying. Their knowledge actually becomes their beliefs, which in turn becomes integrated into their identity. People will kill to defend their beliefs, this is how visceral and part of person’s identity they can become! When it comes to the needs of women and the babies professional need to put their beliefs aside for a few moments and think about the individual in front of them and truly see, hear and feel what they are saying. Regards Sonia

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