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Differing Philosophies of Birth

My husband needed to run to a store today.  He selected a store in a large mall in a trendy part of town.  The mall has beautiful furniture, enticing little cafes and sushi shops, every popular chain you can imagine.  He likes the freedom to look at other things that interest him when he goes to the mall.  He doesn’t mind the traffic congestion near this mall or the large amounts of people who are always inside.  If he can get the item he wants and spend time at this mall, he feels satisfied and successful with his shopping trip.

When I need to pick something up from a mall I choose the small mall on the edge of town that has the major stores and a few little shops.  Traffic is easy in and out, I am not fighting with hoards of customers and I have space to relax if I want to sit and have a coffee or a snack. As a bonus, several other stores I frequent are right outside the mall so I can get several errands done at once.  If I can get an item from this mall I a feel satisfied and successful.

My husband asked me to go to that mall with him once.  I hated every minute of it.  The trip took longer than it needed to, the shops were too loud and too crowded, the cute little cafes were more expensive than I am willing to pay for.  When I ask him to stop at my mall he is bored and annoyed at how many errands I try to do.

I mention this, because I think it is important to understand that even something as “simple” as stopping at the mall to purchase an item can be a hit or miss based on individual philosophies of shopping. Imagine then how difficult it can be to help a family be successful at birth.

It is important to take the time to understand what it takes (besides having the baby) for a family and its individual members to be satisfied with their birthing experience.  Not only does this mean you need to understand where your philosphies differ from theirs, but also where their philosophies differ from each other.

It is also important to remember that different people will make decisions based on different priorities.  It is not that my husband or I “know” more about mall shopping than the other.  In fact, we both have the knowledge and use that to ensure satisfying shopping.  It is the same with birth, your goal can never be to ensure everyone has what you consider to be the perfect birth.  Instead it should be to ensure every family has access to services that allow them to make the decisions about how to manage birth that will work best for them.

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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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