A few years ago my husband and I started out on the adventure of owning our own chickens. I love the idea of being able to produce our own food. There is just something liberating in that idea. When we were discussing it with my grandmother, though, she was horrified that we would eat the eggs from our own chickens, as if they were somehow tainted. She much preferred the idea of the chickens producing in a factory where they can be regulated, uniform, and desanitized according to a set protocol. To her, the eggs produced at home were of lesser quality and by far less safe because it did not go through the factory process.
To me, though, the natural process has been just as safe and much preferable. The eggs themselves contained a coating that, if not washed off like they would have been in a factory, could kill germs and keep the egg safe for consumption. Plus I had the added benefit of being a part of the process, which can be satisfying in and of itself.
I was contemplating this idea this morning because I feel like the differences in attitudes towards birth can be very similar. On one hand, you have women who trust and find reassurance in our technology and feel more comfortable with the sense of control and regulate the protocols of birth give them today. The thought of doing without those boundaries scares them because they truly believe that our technology is safer and better for both the mom and the baby.
Other women feel a greater sense of security when it is their own bodies the work with. They feel better allowing their own safeguards and resources built into them do what they are supposed to do.
What we get are similar outcomes if care is taken to safeguard each woman depending on their choices. If a woman were to choose a more medical/technological route, they will need certain safety precautions, usually involving more technology and intervention. Thus if she chooses to induce early, she should expect that she will need to be more closely monitored using technology, while also relying on the idea that there is human error. If a woman were to choose a more physiologic route, she needs to be secure in the idea that she should do all she can to make sure she is giving herself and her baby all of their physiologic needs during birth. This may include eating healthy, exercising, finding ways to decrease fear and anxiety because if any of these systems should be disrupted, her physiology may not function as well as it could.
Both of these ways bring about similar outcomes: satisfied and safe moms and babies. It’s just the means to bring it about may be different.
A lot of arguments can be held on which way is really better, but I want to finish this post on reasons why just understanding that women may think different matters to doulas.
1) Some women will choose intervention and technology because it makes them feel safer and you need to be able to meet these women where they are at.
2) You need to be prepared to support women in different ways.
3) It is vitally important that women choose care providers that view birth in a similar fashion. It is extremely difficult for a woman to feel safe or cared for if her provider does not find themselves feeling safe with the same things. Care providers who do not know how to support physiologic birth will always turn to medical means and vice versa.
4) It is important to be familiar with both worlds of birth so that you can better support women where they feel safe. This allows you to serve a greater number of women.
5) If you do not feel safe supporting women in one environment versus the other, then you need to make sure you target your practice towards the women who feel safe in the same way you do.