I want to write about this topic. I want to write about the current relationship that I have observed between these three roles. It’s intricate and delicate and, to be honest, it’s causing me a bit of an internal conflict- because I am all three of these things.
When I first qualified as a midwife, hypnobirthing wasn’t really a thing. It did exist but it certainly wasn’t mainstream. Most mums seemed to attend the local NHS antenatal classes or NCT classes. However, when it came to making decisions about their care, mums tended to rely very heavily on the advice of their midwife or obstetrician. Of course, I am generalising here and just sharing what I remember the majority of my experience being like back then.
Now- almost 6 years on, I think that things have shifted slightly. We have a new wave of antenatal education, in the form of hypnobirthing. It’s amazing- a new string to add the bow of techniques for mums to use when they give birth. I loved it so much, that when it came to my turn to give birth, I instantly knew that I would be using it. It worked an absolute treat for me and helped me through a very quick and intense birth.
So, why am I feeling this inner conflict?
Well, because I feel like the three roles are not working in harmony in the outside world.
The thing is, that when I think about these roles, I know that the most important one is (and always will be) that of the mother. She must be the centre point for all care and decisions. She must be the point that we all start from and she must always be our focus.
But we are not helping her. The world of birth is changing ( I believe for the better). Women are no longer expected to blindly conform to the local guidelines of a hospital, no longer expected to just do as they are told and no longer expected to make the decision that a doctor or midwife would like her to make, just for the sake of it. This is great. Informed maternal choice is the gold standard- what we should all be aiming for.
Instead- what is happening, is that midwives are being painted as these human beings that don’t care about normal birth, that want to intervene at any given opportunity and that are intent on ruining a calm birth experience. Whilst, hypnobirthing teachers are seen as the bringers of ‘dangerous’ decision-making, devout followers of normal birth at any cost and as creating unrealistic expectations for mums.
None of this is true.
I am a midwife and a hypnobirthing teacher and in both roles I want the same thing- for every mum to have the best birth experience she possibly can.
I think this is true for most midwives and most hypnobirthing teachers but I also think that both professions can, on occasion, cast doubt on the other.
What does this mean in reality?
It means that hypnobirthing teachers arm mums with the tools and knowledge they need to no longer fear birth itself but they leave them with a fear of midwives and doctors (the very people there to help- should they need to). It means that mums arrive ready to have their babies (and a fight with the staff- in order to get their wish list). It means that midwives are left feeling deflated, like an interference and a bother. Unable to build a meaningful bond with a mum for fear of disrupting the birth plan.
Of course, I am exaggerating slightly here and I am sure that this is not the experience of many but I am seeing this kind of thing more and more (both in online communities and in my day to day work too).
What I am trying to say is this… as a mum you have a voice, listen to those around you (your midwife, your doctor, your hypnobirthing teacher, your doula, your partner) but then listen to the voice inside of you. What feels right for you? Let go of the expectations of others and follow what you know is right for you. Don’t worry about wanting to birth how your hypnobirthing teacher would want you to, don’t worry about causing a fuss if you don’t want to go along with the suggestion of a doctor or a midwife. Own your birth experience- make it yours, birth the way that is right for you and #doitlikeamother.
And please, please, please remember that your NHS team are there to look after you, they are not there to pressure you into doing anything you don’t want to do, they are not there to persuade you into one unnecessary intervention after another. The vast majority of them do the job they do because they love people, they love caring for people and they want the best for you. Yes, there will be the odd bad egg out there (just as there is in any profession) but if this is the case, then ask for a different midwife.
If you’d like to learn about the hypnobirthing courses that we offer, check out our offerings available in Southend and Upminster under the ‘Courses‘ tab.