Your emotional response might not be because of my post

Your emotional response might not be because of my post.

“We are committed to excellent education, unconditional support, informed choice…”

Excellent Education:
The commitment to excellent education means delivering the most up to date, science based FEDANT approved information that we have available.

Unconditional Support:
Means no judgement on any Daisy Teachers behalf about what you chose or why – ever.

Informed Choice:
Your choices, informed by your thoughts, feelings, emotions and knowledge. In the abridged words of January Harshe: I don’t care what birth you had, as long as you had choices.

Genuine Choice?
What makes us unique and wonderful is the fact that we are not all the same. How boring that would be?! Yet when it comes to pregnancy, birth and parenting it seems to be really hard to celebrate these differences.

Part of the reason for this difficulty is the sheer weight of emotion that goes with becoming a mother. We become tired, hormonal, perhaps anxious human beings looking after life at it’s most fragile and it is hard, very very hard to read about how CIO is “terrible” when we are on the very edge of sanity from exhaustion.

Are we really free to make genuine choices that are really our own? Is the mum who is unable to breastfeed because she has to return to work really making a choice? Is the the mum who uses sleep training really making a choice when she has no family around her to take the baby and allow her to rest? Is the mum who opts to use formula because she’s been told it will help her baby sleep really making a choice?

Your Emotional Response.
If you read an article or blog which does not fit with your life experience it may be that you can take it lightly, with a pinch of salt or just shrug it off as one of those things. You are quite happy with the choices you made, they are working for you, and that is great! Really great – I applaud the mums, dads and families amoung us who can allow themselves that degree of self love.
But for some of the reasons mentioned above you may feel a huge emotional response to articles which you read that don’t align with your personal experience or current emotional state. This is completely natural and normal – most likely everyone experiences emotions like this at some time or another. Reading words on the internet is also fraught with difficulty. Your own voice weighs in and you perhaps read accusation where warmth was intended.

Sometimes what we might actually be feeling is guilt or sorrow about our own past decisions and how it may or may not have affected our own children. We feel angry that we couldn’t have done it differently or that life and circumstance made it otherwise. We feel judged – but I wonder how much of that feeling of judgement comes from the words on the screen or our own critical inner voice, the sorrow, the feelings of personal failure, the internal struggle, the trauma experienced.

I have seen women lambast breastfeeding articles for ‘shaming’ women who can’t breastfeed because they themselves couldn’t. But reading on the actual reasons these women couldn’t breastfeed were astonishing – cancer survivors, auto-immune disease sufferers to say but a few. For these women this was never a choice, the choice was cruelly taken away. This is an extreme example to highlight the diffculty in unpicking the reasons that women and people feel upset, judged or angry about articles especially to do with pregnancy and parenting.

We have few spaces in modern society which allow a person space to fully experience their emotions without someone jumping in to share worse stories, offer a conciliatory ‘there there’ or roll out mantra’s such as ‘at least you have a healthy baby’.

Holding a space which is committed to excellent education but knowing that the sharing of such information may ellicit strong emotional responses in individuals is a tough balancing act and one that every Daisy teacher strives to achieve in person, online and with every mum and dad.

So if you recognise something in this blog or if you go on to read something which causes you pain and upset – that’s OK. You are allowed these feelings. But before you comment, before you berate yourself or the author or the person sharing – take a breath, count to three and figure out what it is you are upset about and be kind to yourself.

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” Maya Angelou

Daisy x

(Contributed by our Sheffield teacher Fi Hennessy)

Does instinct overrule evidence when it comes to birth?

How can you best prepare to navigate your birth experience? There are those that will follow their instincts and trust in what they think or know their bodies are capable of – which is great! There are others who will consume every last shred of evidence they can get their hands on and make decisions accordingly – also brilliant. So how can you marry the two options – trust in your instinct or follow the evidence?

In an ideal world, mums to be would be fully informed of the choices she could make during pregnancy and labour. The information would be presented in a non-biased and non-threatening way. (1) She could take the time to assess the different options and be listened to and respected for her choices even if they went against current medical advice. Of course this does happen for many women accessing maternity care however for some the experience may feel different. So what is going on?

What is ‘instinct’? Do we all have it? And why is evidence important if we have instinct?

“an innate, typically fixed pattern of behaviour in animals in response to certain stimuli.” (2)

“the way people or animals naturally react or behave, without having to think or learn about it “(3)

Women are built to birth because we have done since the dawn of time. Our limbic brains run on hormones which when undisturbed will run the dance of labour and birth in almost magestic normality. Women who birth undisturbed demonstrate instinctive behaviours without being told to – they breathe through their noses and mouths, they sway and move, they moan and crouch, they seek privacy and dark, they adopt comfortable positions to ease their labour and birth their baby’s – they instinctively hold and stare at their newborns and smile the smile of love. So yes, in some respects we all have an instinct to birth.

Modern Instinct?

We tell mums to ‘trust your instincts,’ ‘of course you’ll know what to do’, ‘trust your body’ but at the same time bombard her daily with messages of how she can’t trust her instincts or her body or her baby. Time and again mums say that they didn’t really believe they were pregnant and it was so reassuring to see the scan picture. And from that scan we get growth charts and EDD’s and progressions and expectations and neat box ticking exercises which gently erode mums confidence that her body and baby are built to work together. Society tells mums what to eat, what not to eat, how much alcohol to drink or not drink, vitamins to take, activities to avoid and those to take part in. Is it any wonder that mums own instinct becomes harder for her to hear?

Evidence

But sometimes it’s not as simple as just listening to your instinct, your instinct may tell you that a c’section is the right decision for you, that induction is ready for you – how do we balance the evidence we recieve about pregnancy and labour with our own instincts about what is right for us?

“the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid.” (4)

Untangling the evidence can be a mine field. But it’s always worth asking questions of the evidence presented whoever is presenting it. What does the absolute risk versus the relative risk (5) how does this fit with your personal comfort with that risk? What do your instincts say at every point of gathering new information?

“Risk is a very personal concept and different women will consider different risks to be significant to them. Everything we do in life involves risk. So when considering whether to do X or Y there is no ‘risk free’ option. All women can do is choose the option with the risks they are most willing to take. However, in order to make a decision women need adequate information about the risks involved in each option. If a health care provider fails to provide adequate information they could be faced with legal action.” (6)

Balancing Instinct and Evidence

So where does that leave you? The mum approaching her labour to meet her new baby, perhaps over whelmed by the amount of evidence, advice and stories being fired across your path. The first thing to do is take a step back and have a big breath of air! (7) You’ve got this, you really do (8)

Secondly, make a plan – you don’t have to leave your instincts and evidence to chance, understanding your options means you have options. (9) Book a class (10) understand what it means to give birth and have a think about your options, where to give birth, how to manage your birth preferences, get your birth partner prepared. Balance your personal level of comfort with risk give your circumstance – don’t just go with the flow, after all you never know who’s flow you might end up going with.

Take the time NOW, this side of labour to consider the evidence and then when you and your baby are ready listen to and trust your instincts which will be the perfect balance of mind, body and soul for your labour, to meet your baby.

Lots of Love,
Daisy x

External Links.

  1. http://www.birthrights.org.uk/library/factsheets/Consenting-to-Treatment.pdf
  2. https://www.google.co.uk/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=instinct
  3. http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/instinct
  4. https://www.google.co.uk/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=evidence
  5. http://patient.info/health/absolute-risk-and-relative-risk
  6. https://midwifethinking.com/2016/07/13/induction-of-labour-balancing-risks/
  7. https://thedaisyfoundation.com/breathe
  8. https://www.facebook.com/groups/MamaYouveGotThis/
  9. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/health/forget-mother-nature-pregnant-women-can-control-how-they-give-bi/
  10. https://thedaisyfoundation.com/find-a-class/

Written for Daisy By Fi Hennessy, our Sheffield teacher.