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Saturday, January 23, 2010

"Honouring a Woman's Intuition"

Musings of a Montreal Doula has written yet another very insightful blog : "honouring a woman's intuition"

To me, this is yet another prime example of the medical machine's invisible interventions (Which I am currently writing an article on). A woman in pregnancy and in childbirth is at her peak of feminine power, and more in tune with her body than ever before. When she is supported and honoured, she is allowed to hear her body and to act in freedom as she needs to: to grow her beautiful healthy baby and to give birth in a calm and secure environment.

As I posted a couple of days ago, the US Dept of Defence has put together a great "Emergency Childbirth Guide" with the basic premise being "Just leave well enough alone and let the birthing mother get on with it!!" Yet medical professionals in L&D wards across North America seem to be incapable of this- to the point that they will ignore a birthing woman's intuition completely and stick with their own agenda. To me this is one of the most insidious of the invisible medical interventions that overpowers pregnant and birthing women. It is bad enough that most women are forced to conform to the hospital and doctors rules & regulations and are forced through a one size fits all cookie cutter birthing factory, but when even your own voice is taken from you, you are literally stripped down to just another number.

Like Musings of a Montreal Doula, I have listened to so many stories of women who have had very powerful insights into their labours and pregnancies, yet unfortunately most of these have been ignored. Women who've KNOWN that something has been wrong during their labour only to be shushed and treated as a naughty child who's carrying on too much.... only to give birth to a very sick baby that has to spend weeks in NICU.... because no one would listen. Women who've shown up at L&D because they've KNOWN that they are in serious labour, to have medical staff laugh at them and try to send them away "Sweetheart, if you were really in labour right now, you'd know about it!!"... only to give birth 15 minutes later into the startled ungloved hands of a shocked maternity ward nurse.

In pregnancy I see it all the time with so called "Due Dates". A woman has a positive pregnancy test and is sent for an Ultra Sound to date the pregnancy where some Technician Tells the woman when she will have her baby. I can not count the amount of times I've heard women say 'That can't be right"... "I'm at least 2 weeks farther along/not that far along"... and yet even though it is their own body that they are growing these babies in- bodies they've lived with their whole lives.... the doctors invariably go with the U/S pictures "Due Date". This happened to me during my pregnancy with my second daughter. The Ultra Sound technicial grandly announced a due date that I KNEW was at least 2.5-3 weeks earlier than I expected..... hell, not "expected" I KNEW exactly when I had ovulated, and exactly how far along I was. But as usual the doctor chose to believe the pictures. So my daughter was born at "40wks3 days".... weighing 5 lb 15 oz.
I gave the doctor a look that said "I told you so", and he just shrugged. A good friend of mine was assigned a due date with her youngest child that was 3 weeks later than she knew her actual due date was. She told her doctor several times that "this baby needs to come out now"... only to be patted on the head like a small child and told "Oh, every woman gets tired of being pregnant at this stage...." When she went into labour on her "due date" everyone in the birthing room again Pooh poohed her severe anxiety over the health of her baby through a traumatically fast and powerful birth... only to be shocked when her very obviously past term baby was born having convulsions from laying in a stew of miconium thicker than tar. If doctors had listened to her intuition, her baby might not of spent a week in NICU on respirators.

Intuition is a powerful tool, and an empowering tool for women to listen too. Only by listening to our selves and our inner voice and our body can we truly be liberated and empowered to make the decisions that we KNOW are best for us and our babies.

Honouring Women's Intuition

One of the sad things about today's care of the pregnant/birthing/postpartum woman is a lack of respect for her intuition. Many women are considered hysterical or completely blown off for discussing their intuitions. What exactly is intuition? It's about looking inside and gathering information about things and situations not by reason, but by feeling. It is not about being psychic. When we refer to intuition, people sometimes think we're refering to looking into the future, which, unless you truly are gifted with psychic ability, is not generally possible. I think intuition just means gathering information about things which are conveyed in ways more subtle than can be perceived by the five senses. I don't believe, as doulas, we can predict how birth will ultimately play out in the future (try to pin Birth down, and she changes on you...she hates us puny humans trying to "know" her too well), but you can, in the here and now, be able to intuit something about a woman, perhaps an emotional or energetic frequency, that can give you a good or not so good feeling about how that may play out in the field of childbirth. And you can be wrong, which is okay, because nothing is fool proof.. not ultrasounds, amnios, or blood tests (oh my!). ...

...I trust women. A woman in her childbearing year tends to have incredible insight into the workings of her body and her baby. She should be given plenty of space to talk about these feelings freely without fear of being judged as "silly". When you're growing a baby inside you, you are linked to another being more intimately than any other way. It is no surprise that a woman can have very strong feelings about what's going on with her baby. I kinda believe that a baby transmits his feelings to his mom in some cases. I don't think he says, "Mother, I am planning on becoming photographer someday," or "Ma, I will be born with a large birthmark." In fact, many women before the days of ultrasound were unaware they were carrying twins until the day of their birth. I just mean I have seen wild flashes of insight which, in spite of medical disbelief or logic, have been proven right. There are just times a woman tells you something when you know in your own gut what she is saying is know it by a strong feeling of resonance with the truth of her words.

Here are a few examples. A really crazy amazing wild woman friend of mine named Michelle, was my doula for the birth of my first child. She had given birth to her own first three children at home in the mountains of Tennessee, one of them unassisted, I believe. When she became pregnant with her fourth child, she had been doing some doula work in hospitals. She told me she thought she'd birth this baby in a hospital. I asked her, "What do you mean? You've had great home births. What makes you want to go to the hospital?" She told me she wasn't sure, just that she had felt really comfortable in a certain hospital she had worked at, and felt drawn to give birth there. She arrived at the hospital in labour, and was very quickly rushed to the OR for an emergency C-section because of severe fetal distress due a real and serious umbilical cord problem. Her son was fine. And her next three children were born at home in the Dominican Republic.

HERE to Read the entire article.