I wrote this letter to one of the mothers I assisted in labour and birth. She was a first time mom (primip) and although very in her own power in her daily life, during her pregnancy and labour, gave more and more of her power away. I could understand why this happened, there were many circumstances which took place that aided in her feeling out of control and frightened. Usually I feel it is best to debrief from a birth with a mother in person, but for various reasons we could not seem to meet up for this, as she was not officially my client. But I felt compelled to share with her some of the things I had observed during the time I spent with her and try to encourage her to realize how truly powerful she actually was and is now, since her birth. Bits of this letter has been edited for confidentiality, but the point is clear.
I am sorry that I have not been able to make it round to say good bye to you and J. I wanted to have the chance to speak with you as I felt there were somethings I wanted to say to you before we parted, so I will say them in this email. By now you may have taken the time to go over your birth in your mind and if so I hope you are clear on how amazingly strong and focused you were. When I arrived at your place you were labouring so beautifully that I felt it such a shame to disturb you and take you to hospital. I did notice very clearly that although you were super focused, if anyone new approached your space or you were aware of them just outside of your space, your labour would slow down. I saw this first happen when the post man came to the house and you were contracting on the toilet. Your contractions were going strong but for the 10 min he was at the door, they stopped completely. This is a very normal reaction and the same thing happens to many women. It is a throw back to our prehistoric ancestral birthing selves, if we felt unsafe or threatened, our labour would stop so that we could get to a safe place to begin again. I think this shows really good mothering instincts on your part.
Your labour was going so well at home that even the trip to the hospital did not seem to interrupt you and by the time I rang S(2nd midwife), you were having the urge to bear down with some contractions and I could see some anal dilatation. I feel that S’s arrival and subsequently, the arrival of A(the doctor), distracted you to an extent that you were thrown off your astounding labouring rhythm and you began to go back on yourself. I could feel it in the exam I performed, you began to fight your contractions. I think this was because it was all going very quickly and you needed time to adjust to the experience. I also feel and felt at the time that you needed a lot more privacy then you were getting, a chance to reconnect and center your self in your labour. I observed myself and us all, surrounding your bed on many occasions and when this happened I tried to back off and encourage everyone to give you space. Be that as it may, you were surrounded by deep respect and love which is a good thing, but you can see why I asked every one to take a break and leave the room and I sat with you and breathed with you for awhile. I believe that gave you the time to reconnect and rest,in a since, and prepare for the road ahead, which it seemed to do.
In the end, I know you felt as if you could not have done it with out our help, but I wanted you to really understand what you did you did alone. Yes, we stood at the side and encouraged you, and I know that is worth its weight in gold, but you and no one else birthed your beautiful son. He was not cut from your body, nor pulled out with a helping hand. He came into this life through the shear strength of body and spirit of his mother, an amazing and powerful woman. There was a point where you were given a small amount of oxytocin but the amount was so small it was nearly a placebo and the fundal pressure given by A, I believe also worked in this way. There is no evidence to support that fundal pressure is an aid during the 2nd stage of labour and in the UK we are not even taught to use it at all in that way. Although they use it greatly in many other European countries and in the US, as I say, it has not been proven to have measurable beneficial effect.
My point of this email is that I don’t want you to carry a feeling of inability into your next birth. It is my wish for you, like I have for every woman, that you take from your birth experience, a new found knowing of your limitless capabilities and potential in life. The help and support that you drew into your life, appeared there as a reflection of the woman you are. It was a part, in my opinion, of your birthing power and you pulled it out of your environment to aid you as many women do at this time.
I hope this email does not upset or offend you in anyway, it is,of course, based on my subjective view, but it is all I have, so I thought I would offer it. Please understand that I am in no way disrespecting the judgement or actions of any one who was present. I believe we were all there for a purpose and all played a very important role in our support of you and I have the greatest respect for my peers and colleagues. If it were not for them I would not have the opportunity to learn and work in such a nurturing environment.
That’s it really, but I also want to say that it was a pleasure meeting you all and I wish you all the happiness that life has to offer.
You are a beautiful family.