Wednesday, 18 February 2009

I know some secrets - will you listen?

I was at an NCT home birth group meeting a couple of days ago. It was very exciting to be with a couple who were planning to birth their first baby at home. They had done lots of reading and research. Why, asked the expectant woman, why is home birth not the default option? Why indeed!

I have been to many birth and home birth conferences, listened to many learned midwives (and a few obstetricians), read many books, conference reports, government guidelines, and journal articles, and I have supported women and listened to their stories. This couple and myself have come to the same conclusion - we are not medically trained, but everything we have learnt about birth points to home as the best place for birth to go well. It doesn't seem to be rocket science - just hormones, physics and an understanding of birth as what a woman's body does. Yet so often our learned physicians (and sometimes our dear midwives) set up things to get in the way of the birthing body.

The simple knowledge of birth and the power of being at home to do it have become great secrets in our society. They have become so secret that no one believes you when you tell them.

That is how I feel most of the time. "Let me tell you the secrets of birth", I want to tell everyone. Some listen; many don't. Then, occasionally, I meet someone, like this woman, who has discovered the secret herself - and it feels so wonderful. Our home birth groups can buzz with this feeling.

I know secrets - about birth - will you listen?