During the birth process we see many interventions being used routinely even though they often don’t have a grounding in evidence based medicine. Recently it has been brought to my attention that a doula can be an intervention! How could this be? The role of the doula is to support the parents in what ever choices they make. Parents are often at a disadvantage due to the fact that they don’t know much about birth. Even with subsequent births they often think they now know it all! So what happens? Parents often turn to “the experts” rather than doing the research themselves. They are made vulnerable by making this choice even when working with a doula.
I was once told that a hospital gown can be a birth intervention. I laughed but I think it was really symbolic of loosing one’s power when one enters a large institution to give birth. What is an intervention? I was asked this once when giving a talk to a group of pregnant mothers. I started naming some of the unnecessary procedures offered at most hospitals and they were outraged. They said they wanted those things and welcomed them. Who did I think I was trying to tell them that these things might not be in their best interest? I had to back up and look at the typical birth today. I had to ask myself how we have gotten so far removed from anything remotely natural. Why are women allowing themselves to be subjected to so many things that are harmful to both themselves and their babies?
It’s a matter of perception. We often forget that doing nothing is the best choice. Even when it comes to our health in general many are still looking for the “magic bullet” that will take away our pain or make our lives easier. We want someone else to do the work for us. We don’t want to take the time to explore all the options and use the “Risks vs Benefits” model for making decisions. We turn to the “experts” too quickly instead of listening to our inner voice for what makes sense. We often don’t want to do the work of living a life that supports and encourages our optimal health.
As we become more aware of the influences and motivations of our culture we begin to choose to live more consciously. We investigate our options and make better choices for ourselves and our families. We realize that it is our responsibility to learn about alternatives as well as the standard western approach to health concerns. We begin to ask questions like, “Why is birth considered a medical event when a vast majority of the time it is just a natural bodily function that happens without a problem?” We begin to make better choices in all the things we do. We try to improve our diets, exercise more and find time to relax and rest well. We begin to realize that even though we have so many choices perhaps it’s best just do nothing.
We are ultimately responsible for the choices we make. We are the ones that end up having to live with the consequences of these choices. We are responsible for making the best possible choices for our children and it begins before birth. It is my hope that we will continue to take responsibility for our choices, including the way we give birth, and improve our health and well being. We may begin to realize that there is a purpose for doing the work of labor. It’s all about bonding which is just another name for love.