Learning how to be at birth

Learning how to be at birth

Thank you to Jaimee for being our guest mentor today.

I had both my kids unmedicated, one in a birth center with a CNM and one at home with a CPM, but mostly unassisted.  I think the number one thing birth professionals can do to support women is to instill in them the trust that their bodies know how to birth babies and there doesn’t need to be a prescribed method for growing babies and birthing babies.  Therefore there doesn’t need to be a bunch of interventions (including pointless prenatal tests, required fundal heights and weights, checking heart rate constantly during labor, checking dilation, directing pushing, etc.).  I think it takes a lot of experience, witnessing many pregnancies and births, for a professional to get to the point where she is comfortable letting a woman just BE and simply being present to catch the rare problem.

I was so frustrated by the directed pushing my first midwife did when I reached 10cm yet had no urge to push.  My friend was recently told to “hold on” since she wasn’t quite 10cm yet instead of being allowed to follow her body’s instincts.  The myth of 10cm is just one thing that inexperienced midwives still succumb to.  I also measured “behind” during both  my pregnancies, which alarmed my midwives unnecessarily.  Both seemed to not trust that I was eating properly and thought my baby could be dangerously small.  My first was 7lb 1oz and my second was 8lb 2oz.  I could go on and on, but my point is, the best wisdom a birth professional can have is trust in the female body, the ability to spot when something is truly a problem, and to otherwise stand back and let nature take her course.


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Jennifer Vanderlaan CNM MPH is the author of the BirthingNaturally.net website. She has been working with expectant families since 2000, training doulas, childbirth educators, and midwives. She has worked with midwives in Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Her interest in public health grew in 2010, and she is now a PhD student learning to become a producer of knowledge.

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