Tuesday, 7 February 2012


This is another word that I hear a lot.  Progression, or lack thereof.

It wasn't a difficult birth, a caesarean birth or an instrumental birth that brought the word progression to my mind.  It was a straightforward, nice and easy birth.  The student midwife (lovely girl) kept talking about how much progression she could see.  "Ooh lots more show and fluid.  Lots of lovely progression", "Baby's coming down, that's progression", "How nice to see progression without intervention".

We use a lot of words when talking to labouring women.  Sometimes I think that perhaps we should just be quiet, but that's just me.  We set boundaries, goals, barriers, markers etc for women to cross and/or stay within.  Are they for the labouring women, or are they for us?  There's a need to 'do something' and waiting isn't easy.  

I watched a fantastically fast labour that had gorgeously slow moments.  She went from 0-60 and dilated at a rate of knots.  When it came to the pushing stage, well the baby slowed right down and birthed beautifully.  For some, the slowing of the labour would not have been seen as progression, rather a failure to progress, but not for her two lovely midwives.  They smiled and agreed that this was what labours were supposed to do.  They waited.  And things progressed.

We do a lot of measuring when it comes to labour and birth.  We talk to our labouring mums about it all and add an unspoken pressure to 'do things right'.  Am I guilty of that?  Sometimes, but I'm working on it.

Maybe the progression we need is the one where we take a step backwards and let our labouring mums do as their bodies are designed to.


  [pruh-gresh-uhn]  Show IPA
the act of progressing forward or onward movement.
a passing successively from one member of a series to thenext; succession; sequence.
Mathematics a succession of quantities in which there is aconstant relation between each member and the onesucceeding it. Compare arithmetic progressiongeometric progressionharmonic progression.
Music the manner in which chords or melodic tones followone another; a succession of chords or tones.
Astrology any of a variety of methods of comparing thenatal chart to subsequent planetary positions in order toestablish an optimum time to accomplish things or toestablish the probable time an event occurred or will occur.

Saturday, 4 February 2012


I hear the words "I failed.  I feel a failure" quite a bit.  And I wonder about it.

First time mums (and they are not exclusive) find it hard when they've done all that they can do to facilitate the 'perfect birth' and in reality it is not perfect at all.  The makers of Persian carpets (actual Persians, not factories), so I'm told, always put a slight flaw in their carpet patterns.  This is because only God is perfect.  I kind of like that.  

I've mentioned before the mothers and grandmothers who have told the new mum how difficult breastfeeding was for them and how it will be for her.  I'm sure that I also mentioned that we needed to be careful of the things that we take on board.  These are the things that become stumbling blocks and not stepping stones.

My heart breaks a little when I hear a new client tell me why they don't think that they will do so well at the birthing bit.  It breaks a little more when they tell me that their mother said so.  I tell my children (for as long as I can get away with it) that Mummy's always right and Mummy knows everything.  This is one thing that my children won't hear from me, "my labours and births were difficult and yours will be as well".  I don't think that those mothers mean to put fear into their daughters, but that's exactly what they do.  That fear is something that I have to work with and help the expectant mums to put aside or at least come to terms with so that it doesn't revisit them whilst they labour. 

We look to the mothers and grandmothers in our lives to tell us stories about birth and babies. It is sad when we teach our daughters to fear childbirth.  When we complain that a BBC series like Call The Midwife is too graphic and hide it from our children because we hear labour cries, well what example do we set?  What is it that we are teaching them?  Is not birth as much a part of life as death?  Birth is not always a thing of silence, nor is it necessarily bloodcurdling screams.  We need to tell stories of birth, but not just the blood, guts and gore and "I almost died" stories.  There are plenty of those about and many people to share them.  

Why not share the stories of how we persevered and did better than we expected, even if it wasn't quite the birth that we wanted.  Why not talk about the VBACs and HBACs, the second time arounds where we went beyond the 4cm that kept us stuck previously?  Let's make our Plans B and C and tuck them away so that when our Plan A goes awry, we can reach into our bags for the contingency and know that ultimately we didn't fail.