Having Confidence in Your Body for your Labour, Birth and Breastfeeding
Chelsea Kerley speaks with Dr Robyn Thompson and Sarah Jackson about the importance of a woman having confidence in her body to give birth to and breastfeed her baby. The three women share stories about the importance of education during pregnancy, in preparation for giving birth in today’s busy hospital systems around the world.
Key Points of discussion (show notes)..
Trusting your Maternal Instincts
Now, more than ever before, there appears to be pressure on women in the hospital system where they are being ‘told what to do’ and ‘how to do it’, rather than providing a space for women to be gently guided by their maternal instincts. As a health professional, Dr Robyn talks about the importance of listening to the woman and respect her innate capability to give birth to and breastfeed her baby. It’s important that health professionals assist in building a woman’s confidence in herself.
Gaining knowledge during pregnancy
Sarah talks about her own experience of trusting the medical professionals around her, but being bombarded by conflicting and confusing advice. In Sarah’s personal experience, she found herself experiencing complications and sought help from Dr Robyn to help her get breastfeeding back on track. It’s important for women to understand that the decisions made during labour and birth greatly influence breastfeeding. Dr Robyn encourages women to gain knowledge during pregnancy, so that they can empower themselves and reduce the risk of common complications with labour, birth AND breastfeeding.
The hospital system is an institution, where both women and the professionals working within the system are at risk of becoming victims of the system. Dr Robyn does acknowledge that there are times when medical intervention is necessary, but for most women intervention (such as induction) is NOT necessary.
If women can be well informed of their rights and gain knowledge about labour, birth and breastfeeding while still pregnant, they have the opportunity to be more in control of their birth and breastfeeding experience. By taking the time to observe and listen to a woman in labour, midwives and other health professionals can learn so much about how the woman is progressing and how her baby is progressing. Routine vaginal examinations are not necessary, even if they are hospital policy. Dr Robyn’s hope is for a return to respect for women, midwives and the complementary health professions, where unnecessary intervention is avoided and women can give birth to their babies in a gentle, supportive and safe environment.
Partners being well informed
Dr Robyn goes on to encourage partners to become well informed in preparation for labour, birth and breastfeeding too. In circumstances where the mother is unable to speak for herself, there is often a lot of pressure on the partner to make a decision. It’s equally important for the partner to have the knowledge so that an informed decision can be made. The best way for this to happen is for the woman and her partner to create a Birth and Breastfeeding Plan together, or at least for the partner to understand the woman’s wishes.
There’s a common saying that “Knowledge is Power” and it’s so true for a woman and her partner / advocate to be able to navigate the busy hospital system. Making informed decisions comes with an informed background of knowledge. Taking the time to consider your options is another important factor. It’s okay to say “I’d like some time to think about it” in a situation where induction is being recommended, for example. It’s okay to ask questions, questions, questions….
The inert period of labour
Dr Robyn reflected on her own experience as a Homebirth Midwife and shared the common experience where women would be progressing well in their labour, and may have been labouring over a fairly long period of time. The woman would often become tired and go into an inert period where she needed to sleep. Her body was tired. Her mind was tired. She wouldn’t stop labouring, but her labour would slow down. Keeping the mother comfortable and with close observation of the foetal heart rate, the woman would wake in her own time and continue with labour, often ready to give birth. It’s a period that is rarely observed in the hospital system, with the increase in acceleration (induction) of labour, to give birth in the hospital’s not in the woman’s time.
If you would like to get breastfeeding off the best possible start, download Dr Robyn’s ‘Gentle Guide Towards Pain-Free Breastfeeding’ => Download it here
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From all of us at The Thompson Method team, happy birthing & happy breastfeeding.
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