Why are we scared to give birth naturally?
My belief is that as more medical intervention occurs in childbirth, it leads to a cascade of labour complications and traumatic birth experiences. This has led to a most understandable increase in the amount of fear and aversion felt by women and prevent them even considering giving birth vaginally.
If more money was spent on offering women counselling, fear release and relaxation techniques for those women, who quite understandably felt afraid to undertake childbirth, then not only would women experience the joy of giving birth, but also have less complications recovering from major surgery.
A controversial move by NICE to introduce guidelines for caesarean section to be available as a choice for women has stirred up emotions both for and against the move. I am a great believer in giving women informed choice, but one of my concerns is that women are fully informed about the pros and cons of a caesarean section. What worries me even more is that we have such a negative view of childbirth that we are too scared to give birth naturally!
Don’t get me wrong, a caesarean section is a life saving operation in specific circumstances and should be used in those situations. The problem is when it becomes normal practice and we forget that it is major surgery with a higher risk of complications for both mother and baby.
The philosophy of HypnoBirthing allows parents to release fear and tension, which activates our flight and fight response leading to more pain and a disruption in the natural flow and rhythm of labour and birth. Research has shown that women who have practiced self-hypnosis, visualisations and breathing techniques have shorter labours with less chemical analgesia needed for comfort. Therefore, lets encourage NICE to recommend that HypnoBirthing is available within the NHS as a choice for women who are afraid, or would like to have a gentle, calm birthing.
In recent research carried out at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital by scanning the livers of newborn babies for levels of fat, findings revealed that babies born by caesarean had higher levels of fat in their livers than those born naturally. In the former, the weight of the mother had an impact on the amount of fat in the baby’s livers. However, the mothers weight did not have an impact on those babies who were born naturally or those who were born by emergency caesarean section after the women had laboured.
This study highlights the need for more research into the effects of having a caesarean on both mother and baby, and the need for caution for those women who are tempted to opt for what they perceive as an easier, less frightening option for giving birth. I urge you to explore all the options for natural antenatal preparation and get professional help if you feel terrified of giving birth vaginally, because there are natural solutions available out there.
Photography: Jonny Hunter @Flickr