A Summary Of What Women Want……

The Maternity Review 2016

When outlining what women said they wanted from their maternity services this is what they said:

* What we heard from women and their families 
Safe and personalised care 

    * 3.2.  Women and families whom we spoke to or who contacted the review through another route told us that they want to access maternity services that are safe and that keep them as safe as possible. They understand that birth is not risk-free, but that advances made over the last decades in medicine and healthcare have made giving birth safer than it has ever been. 


   * 3.3.  We also heard equally strongly that women want to be able to choose the care that is right for them, their family and their circumstances, and that they want the care to wrap around them. They understand that there are finite resources, however they expect that their needs are able to be supported. We were told that women do not always feel like the choice is theirs and that too often they felt pressurised by their midwives and obstetricians to make choices that fitted their services. They resented the implications for their care of being labelled high, medium or low risk. Above all, women wanted to be listened to: about what they want for themselves and their baby, and to be taken seriously when they raise concerns. 

    * 3.4.  Women told us how important it was for them to know and form a relationship with the professionals caring for them. They preferred to be cared for by one midwife or a small team of midwives throughout the maternity journey. It was felt that this could provide better support for women, and enable midwives to better meet their needs, identify problems and provide a safer service. Continuity was also important for obstetric care, especially after a traumatic experience.

A good summary of the many areas of challenge that birth professionals face as we seek consensus moving forward. 

Woman understanding that birth is not risk free, but they dislike the ‘high and low risk’ labels that are attached to them from day one. 

The balance between understanding the ‘risks’ that are present, but at the same time wanting to be at the center of care which is tailored to suit them, not the service that’s providing the care, is clear. 

As I watch the ‘social media’ discussion from ‘both sides’ of the the debate it seems to me that in the evidence to The Review women have the ‘balance’ about right; something that can not always be said for the debaters in Twitter land.  


3 thoughts on “A Summary Of What Women Want……

  1. In one of the Grail myths there is a moment where King Arthur finds himself in a predicament for his life. In order to get out of it he might find the answer to this question, “What do woman want?” So he and Sir Gawain search of this answer that must be correct or his life will be taken from him. In the end they meet an old “Hag” who has the answer but will only give it to them if one of them “beds” or “marries” her. Arthur cannot do it even though it means his life. Gawain accepts and the answer is “Sovereignty over men.” Arthurs life is saved though Gawain is now married to his “Hag”. At night she reveals her true identity of a beautiful woman cast under a curse and she tells Gawain, he has a choice of her being beautiful during the day and he won’t lose face being married to an ugly hag or she can be beautiful at night where only he would know. His answer is she must make that decision not him, again reinstating the idea of sovereignty over men. Woman want to have their freedom to choose. Gawain leaned the lesson.

    I just experienced a free birth with my partner (my first, her second birth) I learned many golden lessons in the experience. One that applies here I believe is knowing when to get out of the way and allow her to do what she needs to do. In the pool, out of the pool,on her knees, standing, this is a difficult task I believe for men who feel they must solve or be in control. I feel it is even more difficult for a culture (patriarchal) that must be in control and reign over nature, economics, the feminine, ideologies. Birth I discovered should be in the control of the woman giving the birth and our role as the partner and society is support her needs and decisions, never impinging upon her our control. There is nothing more sacred then birth I’ve come to discover though I held this belief in theory to experience it, embody it I know it now. The mother like mother earth must have the freedom to be what they are, givers of life and until we understand this, and embody it by allowing mothers their sovereignty then our society is unsustainable. I believe the question is important because it affects and reflects us as a whole, the micro to the macro.

    What do woman want? Woman know so let us get out of the way and just let them make that decision.

  2. In the Grail myths there is a story in which King Arthur has got himself into a situation by offending and so must find the answer to a question, “What is it that woman want”? He must answer this or lose his life. What ensues is a search for the answer with Sir Gawain, they consult the wisest men but are unlucky at finding a suitable answer until they meet a “Hag” or “Crone” who is willing to give them the answer if King Arthur marries her. Even at the sake of his life Arthur is unable to marry ugliness. Sir Gawain accepts the bargain and in the end they receive the answer and Arthurs life is saved. The answer was, “Sovereignty over men”. Eventually Sir Gawain takes the “Crone” back to Camelot and she reveals to him at night in private that she is actually a beautiful woman who has been cursed and that she will give Gawain the choice of having her beauty revealed during the day, so he won’t be embarrassed to be married to a crone or at night in private where he can be with her and her beauty. Sir Gawain made the decision to let the decision be made by her.

    My partner and I recently had a home birth/ free birth and that experience allowed so much growth for me as a man. One of the many golden bits of experiential wisdom was that I had to learn how to let go and get out of the way. Which I feel is hard for most men, to relinquish control. I was just there to support my partner and to do what she needed to do. She is the wisdom I am the support. Her heart, mind, body, soul, knew how to give birth and I needed to trust and support. I feel this is what needs to happen in the birthing process. At a home birthing meeting I heard a few times this notion. That mothers felt they weren’t being heard or that their wishes were ignored in relation to their birthing experience.

    As a practicing therapist, After my experience of supporting the birth of my daughter I believe that many of the ills or dis-ease of society can be fixed if we return to perfect process of birth in its natural state. We must listen to what woman need and want in this process and support there wishes and needs. Woman know and I believe they know it in their psyche and their DNA.

    As for King Arthur and Sir Gawain what I find fascinating about that story is I feel like most myths it reveals to us our collective psyche. When Sir Gawain stepped aside and let the woman determine her fate. in other words he listened to the answer to what women want. And as for Arthur even at the sake of his life his egoic pride would not allow him to be with a “Crone” or to see the wisdom and beauty she was willing to share. We can either be like Sir Gawain and accept the beauty and wisdom of women or be like King Arthur and let our egos get in our way. this is a crucial time in our collective history, we are walking the razors edge of salvation and we might not always have the Sir Gawain’s to get us out of our messes. Let us start listening to those who know. The birthing process is the most sacred thing in this life and we should start treating it so, being present and listening, knowing that it should be handled with love and deep caring. Bringing beauty into the experience not just for the sake of beauty but for the sake of our survival and mostly for the children. Lets bring them into the world in the most creative, beautiful, sacred way possible. Lets listen and learn.

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