As doulas, we’re very fond of saying we support positive birth -because we do! It’s our passion that women (and their partners) have the chance to feel positive about their pregnancy, their birth and having and caring for a new baby.
But we also find very often people expect that we support ‘natural’ birth, or ‘drug free’ birth or home birth. Maybe that’s because we’re also fond of saying we believe in women and their bodies. So, let’s just get this straightened out. What do doulas really mean by positive birth?
I asked the Hampshire doulas “what do you mean when you say positive birth?” These are some of the answers they gave me:
The main theme is that a positive birth is one where you feel supported in your choices. Doulas don’t make choices for anyone or advise parents on the right choice to make. We find information when it’s needed and ask questions about the pros and cons of decisions so that the parents we work with can make informed choices and more than anything else, we listen. We listen to the whole story of how you feel, to what it’s like to be you and to why you make the choices you make and we support you to make the choices you want to make with all the information you need. Then we hold your hand and hold your space while you labour and parent in your own choices, we encourage you and we gently help you insist that the other people around you do the same.
What does that mean from a practical point of view?
As well as helping you trust your decisions we can help you find the things that work for you to work with your contractions in the early stages of labour. We also know that most of the time when the space around you is kept calm, quiet, dark and free from the feeling of being observed you have the best chance of feeling calm and having an uncomplicated birth experience. We often find that women who are supported experience labour and birth as not scary and even enjoyable.
But we also believe that you’re the one who knows best if it’s time for you to choose to have medical help dealing with the sensations of your contractions. We’re also there to support you if the situation arises where you need to make decisions that are different to your original birth plan that your informed decision on the day is the right one for you and we will support you to make that decision whatever it may be.
So any kind of birth can be a positive birth?
Yes, you can have a positive homebirth, a positive water birth, a positive birth centre birth, a positive birth on labour ward, a positive epidural birth, a positive assisted birth, a positive c-section. As long as each of these things happens in an atmosphere where you know you are supported and your decisions are yours alone and are the best ones for you made freely with all the information you need.