Tuesday, May 20, 2008

An Undisturbed Birth

I've been talking a lot about "an undisturbed birth" lately.

The language that we use in labour is so potent. I'm uncomfortable with many descriptive terms surrounding birth, such as "I'd like a normal birth"...or "She had a natural birth" ...or "We did a pure birth." It sounds like all others are abnormal or unnatural or impure. Birth just should be.

So, it came to me, recently, when I realized that so many of my clients have what I describe as "she just went into labour and then had the baby" births...they had all been undisturbed in labour. My role is to keep her private space protected and undisturbed, to help her feel free to move undisturbed, to be the guardian of her cave. She remains hidden, unobserved, in a safe space.

Even if I'm with her, I cast my eyes down in respect, until I am addressed. Often, I am just a hand, or a whisper, or even a silent presence beyond the curtain. Her partner sits still, a great gift, close by.

The photo shows it all. She is safe, alone in the shower. Her partner, and I, and her midwife, watch the rippling reflections on the floor, listen to the rhythmic pulsing of the shower, become transported, lost in time.

Our job is to help her remain undisturbed.

But...Oh, no! Here's the night nurse, who I usually adore. But she walks in at 7pm, saying loudly..."Och, it's HOT in here!" We all put our fingers to our lips...hope the woman dancing in the water doesn't hear... Later, the woman says her body tensed up at that moment, and she thought, "Oh, no, she's loud and Scottish!" and it took a while for her to get back into her undisturbed rhythm (and she later came to love the accent).

An undisturbed birth is a challenge to achieve, but its effects are immeasurable.

- Jacquie Munro, Vancouver Doula


HamiltonDoula said...

The last birth I was at was a little like that. It was one of those births that a doula feels a little useless at (though being a homebirth, my role shifted to "extra pair of hands"). The mama laboured so well and so focused that she completely went away with each contraction. She completely ignored the midwife who said, with each contraction (9cm and more), "do you want me to break your waters? Cuz I can do it and it will speed things up a bit and it won't negatively impact anything."

Mama didn't even acknowledge that the midwife had even spoken. It was something mum, dad and me had a good laugh about a few days later.

I'm not yet experienced enough to tell a midwife to shush, but boy did she natter! I think she felt as useless for this mom as I did! I, however, had the good sense to leave mum as undisturbed as possible.

Krista Arias said...

"I cast my eyes down in respect, until I am addressed." beautiful.

and yes, it can be hard to achieve especially when the interference comes from within... or from the nattering midwife! ha ha ha...