Whenever I talk to my French relatives about birth choices, they are amazed by the freedom women experience in the UK. Having given birth to my three children in English hospitals, I am glad I was given the choice to move around, adopt upright positions which felt instinctively comfortable and even use some gas and air! The reality for many women in French hospital is very different with a very highly medicalised view being the norm. From the French word for pregnancy, grossesse, which translates as “fatness”, to the need to be examined by an obstetrician every month to see if the mother’s cervix behaves itself! Yet amongst all this policy of medicalisation, a French obstetrician has consistently championned the right of women to be respected in their need for an undisturbed and natural birth. In this article, Michel Odent reminds us that we are at a crossroad. He acknowledges the improvement in hospitals recognising the needs for babies and their mother to enjoy skin to skin contact straight after birth. But he says that “we still have to rediscover the basic needs of laboring women”. The potential for a greater move towards encouraging mothers to follow their instincts when labouring is there. As a doula, I believe that women should be supported to make the most of this freedom. Above all, the promotion of informed choices always ensure that parents are part of the decision making process.
Full article found in the Telegraph, June 17th 2013