A brief aside from the trip thoughts for a few minutes, if you will so indulge me. It seems as if I have been running into a situation lately, and it is driving me ’round the bend. What has my proverbial knickers so knotted, you ask? (A situation that is both uncomfortable and even potentially dangerous?) I absolutely hate it when birth professionals, and by that I mean doulas, acupuncturists, massage therapists, midwives, homeopaths, heck anyone who has their hands or their minds on pregnant women, take credit for starting a woman’s labor.
Guess what? You don’t get to. You don’t get to claim that your magic acupressure points, or your special way of sweeping membranes or the way you channel the Goddess does anything. Now, this isn’t meant to become a debate on the efficacy of these or any other techniques. Maybe they work, and maybe they don’t. I have my own ideas about it, something along the lines of “I don’t know…maybe if a woman is teetering on the very brink of labor then maybe maybe maybe what you do can have a little tiny effect, and topple her over the edge into the Land of Regular Contractions. But most likely they would have gone into labor anyway, as most people don’t start with the desperate until they are over their estimated due date.” Those are my thoughts, and of course, you are welcome to yours. You may truly believe with all your heart that you can throw a woman into labor. And that’s great. Believe it. Just don’t share it.
There are some studies, of course, because if you look, you can find studies on anything. But they are small, and again, you can’t disprove a negative. If you are looking at term women, trying to isolate one variable can be difficult. Term women are actually known for going into labor all by themselves, which could, well, throw off a study.
I’m sorry if this is hard on your ego, or if you have made your fortune by “naturally inducing” women. Or if you like the feeling you get when you say (off the record, of course, because you are professional, and only talk about such things with your trusted birth professional circle) “Oh, she’s really close I’ll just do–fill in the blank–and we’ll get this show on the road.” But the truth is, this isn’t your show.
Like almost everything else in birth, it’s the mother’s show. And when it’s not hers, it is her baby’s.Mostly, it is a combination, as it is hard to separate these two bodies and souls, and I for one, would never want to. The last thing we need is another “professional” trying to own this process, to give off the impression that the mother is not enough. Mothers already struggle with abdicating their pregnancies and birth, with giving over their power and their process to those they believe “know better.” Jodilyn and I see so many things, almost everyday, that serve as wedges between a mother’s strength and intuition and her baby.
Mothers receive oodles and oodles of messages that they are not enough for their baby, that their bodies and minds cannot be trusted, and that it would be best if they would just surrender to these outside forces. What happens when they go to one of these professionals, hoping to start labor, and it doesn’t work? Nothing good, I tell you. More separation from intuition, more doubt, more guilt. Who needs that? Even pitocin doesn’t work if a mother’s body is not ready. How many c-sections come about because of failed inductions? A lot. Then more questioning, more trauma.
So if you are a birth professional, I ask you to offer your gifts freely, without any expectation or ego. Give real information, and please please don’t regale your clients with stories of how your last client went into labor three hours after getting off your table. Don’t even mention labor induction, even if you really truly think you can make a difference. If a mother comes to you hoping for it, tell her that her body is absolutely the most wonderful thing on earth, and that she has done a fantastic job growing this little person inside. Tell her about the benefits of relaxation. That’s something every pregnant mother can use. Tell her that you believe in her and her baby, and the inherent wisdom of the body. Tell her that it is an honor to work with her, and that you have faith in her. In short, tell her the truth.