The wonderful World Midwives shared a lovely Biblical quote the other day: 'Be careful what you say today. “The power of life and death are in the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:21)'
There are so many ways in which this is relevant in the birthing world. Today I was thinking about it in connection with the way that I practise as a Doula. I had lunch with a lovely couple who are expecting twins in the summer. They are so excited about their future with these children. They've listened to so many high risk talks and refused to be scared and are looking into more information and research. At the moment they are collecting bits and pieces from friends and family. They asked me what they should do about a buggy for the babies and my mind instantly reminded me 'don't make their decisions for them'. I know it was as simple as a buggy, but think about it. I recommend Buggy A, it's fantastic in my opinion, it does what I would want it to do etc etc. They buy Buggy A and discover that Buggy B is actually better suited to them. Much better for me to talk to them about what they might want in a buggy. Too simplistic... hmmm... let me think!
Couple A are expecting a second baby. Their plan is to have a VBAC. Mum was induced at 42 weeks as there was no sign of her baby or labour. A hyperstimulated womb means an emergency caesarean section. They ask me 'What do we do? Do we have an elective section? Do we push beyond the 42 weeks in case this baby needs 43 weeks to come?'. It would be so easy for me to give them my opinion, but my role is not to give my opinion, but to support theirs. So instead I might point them towards Ten Month Mamas or VBAC.co.uk. Perhaps I'd lend them my VBAC handbook. Whatever I did, the aim would be for them to make their own decisions about how they would like the birth to go.
Couple B have no clue about birth at all. They have done no preparation, read no books and are happy to go with the flow. I've attended a lot of births. I know that going with the flow is a risky choice. So much comes down to your midwife and/or doctor. They look to me to give them information and to 'tell them what to do'. If they want to read books, I'm more likely to point them in the direction of Ina May Gaskin and Michel Odent. I would direct them to Pinter and Martin so that they could see what was available to them.
Couple C are expecting twins and have been told that they will be induced at 37 weeks or they will have a planned caesarean. Everything within me would rise up in a scream, but I would need to take a deep breath and start to ask them questions to find out what they want. They might want an elective caesarean. That would be their choice. Again, my role is to signpost information and get to the heart of what it is that they want and/or fear.
It would be so easy to have my blueprint for birth for each of my couples. You may be surprised to learn that I have a lot of opinions. If you know me at all, you'll know that I love to talk. There are so many times when I've recognised that all I need to do is to say something and my clients take it as gospel. There's a lot of power that I hold in my hands. Being a Doula is not something that I take lightly.