What would you recommend to bring about these empowering, safe and unmedicated hospital births?
I have two recommendations. First, CNMs in hospital-based practices need to continue pro-actively to promote, request, teach and demonstrate non-interventive birth alternatives. The fight is old and tedious, but change will only come about with continuous effort. For example, my practice provides lectures to the Family Practice residents on pain management alternatives, and on waterbirth. Then we invite the residents to attend our births. They love it.
Secondly, the women seeking support for birthing alternatives in the hospital can help by calling hospitals and speaking to the Labor and Delivery unit leaders to ask about their services and making clear that the demand is real. Women who have experienced a positive birth using the alternatives offered at the hospital must write a letter commending the hospital for their wonderful support and tell them that they will recommend their hospital to their friends!
What would be the single best change that could occur in the general public’s idea and experience of birth? What can we do to bring this about?
The single best change? I think I would like to have the general public see that the recent decades’ medicalized American way of birth is not the norm globally. Women across the planet have births that are attended at home, in birth centers, in hospitals, by midwives with all types of training, with babies born on land and in water, most of the time without medications or epidurals. And many of these countries have better outcomes overall. To bring this about individuals who are dedicated to the gentle birthing ideal must speak out. Lecture, advise, write, challenge.
I am careful never to take away what another woman might view as a wonderful birth experience, even though she had multiple medications or an epidural, by offering my opinions. Often, though, in response to my smiling silence women will ask about my thoughts about birth. I can then speak with my heart, without addressing her birth in particular. The message is more gentle, and will be heard either right then or years later. But perhaps the message will be heard.
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