Do we want a perfect birth or do we just want a system that provides us with good care by good midwives who are able to spend time with woman to support and reassure?
Most of the women I see in my antenatal classes, don’t expect perfection – they expect pain and exhaustion , they expect to have to dig deep to manage their contractions and they often wonder if they can do it. Perhaps most of us would love birth to be easy but I don’t think we expect it, a lot of women expect the worst, rather than perfection. And they want to be armed with information and basic skills to stay in control.
It is my job to provide information and ideas for expectant parents about how to manage their energy and their pain, along with the skills to stay calm and to be assertive about making decisions when they need to. Some women will aim for water and gas, for others only the thought of an epidural will help them stay positive. Neither are right or wrong or perfect and I don’t think we are all striving for the same identical experience, it is too amazing and unique for that.
Labour is hard work, it can be really tough at times both physically and emotionally and it can also be really beautiful. But what needs to be right is the level of care and information we receive throughout pregnancy, as well as during labour, to help us feel safe and supported, to enable us to trust our body and our ability to birth our babies and to ask for reassurance when we need it. There are some brilliant midwives working within our communities and maternity units, working hard to provide bloody good care within an overstretched system – a system that supports them and the parents who use maternity services is what needs to strive for perfection.