Grand Births Designs?

What a contrast of programmes and approaches to similar subjects; David Attenborough’s respectful and hushed tones talking about a tigress’ care for her cubs, followed by a program full of dramatic noises of distressed mothers trying to labour and birth amongst a uniformed crowd of tea cake eating midwives, in a brightly lit hospital.

Labouring in familiar surroundings, is listed as the first advantage of Home Birth on the BirthChoices UK website. This site also says home birth is “your first choice” on their check list for the best outcome for mother and baby even when the woman does not have a known midwife care for her through-out pregnancy and labour (which is the UK norm)!

Meanwhile turning a house into a Grand Design, through planning, researching and great effort as a means to express yourself and make your own ‘nest’, is internationally recognised as a significant achievement. However where is a similar program to encourage individuals to put this much effort into childbirth? Similarly there are copious TV programs and international events which extol mastery in so many areas of life. But programs or events celebrating or acknowledging any woman’s amazing ability to naturally birth a child are non-existent! Where are young couples encouraged to research or question care options as to their health outcomes before starting a family?  How can I get Hugh F-W. to champion home grown and born babies?

Where is there any public acknowledgement of women’s innate ability to grow and nurture our young? Where is the New Zealand  promotion and creation of appropriate birthing spaces for women? Many places are building more humane zoos, New Zealand, like many other countries, has an amazing record of re-creating natural environments for the breeding of threatened species. But we accept alien, inappropriate and often archaic environments for women to labour and birth! Where is any agenda to create better public birthing facilities, or to increase the home birth rate in New Zealand? Where is there any public concern about the impact of the rising rates of childbirth intervention on the women, babies and future families of New Zealand?

The broadcasting of ‘One Born Every Minute’ suggests an acceptance of women birthing in alien environments, and that the Common interventions used during (‘normal’) childbirth include: induction,epidural,episiotomy,manual removal of placenta and the management of postpartum haemorrhage.”

Coming from one land of the ‘fair go’ to another I fantasize that a TV network will one day make and broadcast a programme called something like ‘Grand Births’ or ‘My Birth Rules!’

This program would follow couples from pre- conception through to early parenting, as they discuss, research and explore maternity care based around healthy and sustainable lifestyle choices. The couples would interview international birth experts about the latest evidence on all pregnancy and birth care options, as well as the impact of each choice on their baby and future health. As women did in our less urban pasts and did when I was on the WA Community Midwifery Program, these couples would also meet others who talk positively about their birth experiences. Thus viewers would be reminded that women do know how to give birth naturally and ecstaticly. Viewers might also see couples discuss with a midwife researcher any conflicting advice or confusing situations that they have experienced or been told about; such as ‘when to go to hospital’ or not. Labours of women, like those of animals on natural history shows, would be filmed using infra-red cameras and voices would be lowered so as not to disturb the blissed-out mother due to optimal birth  hormonal flows. The birthing mother would only be roused to greet her wondrously alert baby! The practitioners who would meet the needs of these couples on this program would be experienced, natural birth and parenting experts; as pregnancy is the beginning of parenting!

Perhaps after a  few years, or a decade of this program the MOH, with the money saved by the reduction in cesarean deliveries, closure of archaic maternity wards and increased long term breastfeeding (etc), would fund more local community based and integrated, maternity-family services. Thus it would be the Ministry of Health, as there would be fewer sick children and young adults due to higher rates of long term breastfeeding, plus families who had natural births at home or in a local community centre would live healthier, more sustainable and connected lives. Ina MayGaskin amongst others would be making new videos celebrating the reskilling of midwives and obstetricians, as well as the history of the rebirth of birth!

Such is the dream of some-one who still can not comfortably laugh at  Monty Python‘s ‘The machine that went ping!

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I can promise you that women working together - linked, informed and educated - can bring peace and prosperity to this forsaken planet. — Isabel Allende
The greatest joy is to become a mother; the second greatest is to be a midwife. — Norwegian proverb
All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward. — Ellen Glasgow
Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers – strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength. — Barbara Katz-Rothman
We need to have their hearts before we can open their minds. — Dr Gordon Neufeld
A loving heart is the truest wisdom. — Charles Dickens
Nothing in life is to be feared it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more so we can fear less. — Marie Curie
Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible. — Frank Zappa
Trust children. Nothing could be more simple, or more difficult. Difficult because to trust children we must first learn to trust ourselves and most of us were taught as children we could not be trusted. — John Holt
No other natural bodily function is painful and childbirth should not be an exception. — Grantly Dick-Read