Wednesday, May 06, 2009

"The Folly of 'Fully'"

Practising Midwife May 2009

Sara Wickham's article breaks into the accepted idea of 10 centimetres exactly as the universal "fully dilated" measurement.

I have always thought 10 centimetres was a suspiciously round number. I mean, did someone at the Academie Francaise des Sciences, where the metric system now called the ISU system first saw the light of day, think hard and say, "I know, let's measure a woman's fully dilated cervix, and adopt a standard measurement exactly ten times that, and call it a metre!" I don't think so.

Indeed history tells us that the metre was originally defined as one ten-millionth of the distance from the North Pole to the Equator along the meridian which runs near Dunkirk and Barcelona. Even though you could presumably fit exactly one million fully dilated cervixes along that line, I doubt this was a test uppermost in the Academie's minds.

Wickham proposes that a normal range for "fully" or as one of my doula friends says, "fully delighted" would be more natural and more in line with the acceptance of RANGES of normality for all other measurements in childbirth.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Great birth story

Another fantastic birth story from a HypnoBirthing client today.
Her waters broke early one evening, she went briefly to hospital for a check, and within 24 hours she was having 20 second surges every five minutes (she rang me around 7pm to tell me). This intensified through the night, she managed the night with a TENS and HypnoBirthing breathing. When she got to the birth centre at 5am she was 7 centimetres dilated.
The first water leakage must have been hindwaters as as she stepped into her birthing room her forewaters went with a gush. She got straight into a birth pool and after quite a long second stage birthed her little girl. The long second stage was mainly due to the baby's having her hand up by her face.
She had no pain relief besides the TENs at first then the pool - otherwise she depended entirely on the self-relaxation and breathing techniques I had taught her in her HypnoBirthing sessions. Partner stuck her special birth pictures up around the room when they got to hospital. She listened to her HypnoBirthing affirmations throughout the second stage pushing.
In her own words she felt calm and relaxed throughout her labour!

Home Birth Safety - major study

Major study in the Netherlands shows home birth as safe as hospital for low risk mothers, reported 15 April 2009:

Very stupid and annoying columnist called Melanie Reid in The Times the next day:

Well, Melanie Reid, how would you like to be told you, or women like you, are "spoilt and complacent" because you insist on tying up scarce NHS resources with your expensive, consultant-delivered epidural anaesthesia and the cascade of interventions, requiring more and more medical staff to be involved in the delivery of your baby, which it often brings in its wake?
You wouldn't like it one bit. And of course no birth professional would be so purblind, mean-spirited and stupid as to describe a woman as "selfish" because she insists on the kind of high-maintenance birth environment Melanie Reid clearly thinks is essential for all women. Yet she thinks it is fine to throw this abuse at other women who want to make different choices.
How sick I am of women journalists who think that because they had a baby once, they know all there is to know about EVERYONE ELSE's labour and birth!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Euphemisms and birthing language

The language around birth is very important. With HypnoBirthing it is all-important since hypnotherapy is an entirely language-based therapy.
in this month's "Practising Midwife", the distinguished midwife Sara Wickham discusses euphemisms such as "pop" - "often preceded by the word just"..."an attempt to soften any number of clinical procedures which are routine but which individual women might not consent to if it was made explicitly clear that she had a choice"
and points out, perhaps subversively, that language which softens ie makes less frightening a procedure might not be bad. "I avoid using medical terms that I perceive as fear-filled (haemorrhage, risk factor) and choose words which I feel to be less hormonally and emotionally upsetting to women (bleeding, challenge).
She prefers calling sanitary towels bunnies - "removes the connotation of dirtiness"
She mentions Ina May Gaskin's rushes for contractions, but sadly not the HypnoBirthing surge...
She might have added that linguistically many of these "less threatening" words are of Anglo-Saxon origin instead of Latin/Greek origin.
Wickham S Euphemisms: good, bad or ugly? (2) The Practising Midwife Vol 12 Number 4 April 2009 page 35
Also refers to Nicky Leap (1992). The power of words, Nursing Times 88:60-61

Pre-labour cervix weeping

Back in October 2006 - have I really been a doula all this time? I noted with interest in this blog a midwife discussing the phenomenon of the cervix "weeping" a few days (5-7) before going into labour.
Well whaddyaknow, my current birth client seems to have had that exact experience last night, at 38 weeks exactly. It was so noticeable, with a distinct "gush" of clear fluid, that she thought it might be her waters breaking and we were on the QV all night.

Home Birth as safe as hospital birth

Strange that it is thought that breech birth and prolonged labour can only be dealt with in hospital.