Home' InDaily : October 30th 2009 Contents October 30 - November 5, 2009
The Independent Weekly
When it comes to
labour, women need
control and you need
an invitation, writes
Eminent French obstetrician
Dr Michel Odent believes
men should not be present at
He also makes a claim that "the
presence of men could lead to more
adrenalin being produced which
makes labour longer and more
painful, and increases the chance of
a caesarean section".
To my knowledge there is no
research done that has measured
women's levels of adrenalin
production in labour and to make a
claim such as this is nonsense.
Pregnancy and birth can, and
should, be a highlight of the life of a
woman and her partner. Becoming
a parent is challenging, rewarding
and sometimes frustrating.
Women may never be fully
prepared for the reality of the
experience, however they can and
should be prepared. We know that
men at birth is a phenomena of the
past 30 years. What about the man
who does not want to be at the birth
but feels through peer pressure,
that he has to be there?
Too many people being invited
to the birth became a "circus"
which had a distracting effect for
the woman where she was unable
to focus on what she needed to do --
experience her labour, experience
her body, work with the pain of her
contractions and birth her baby
with as little or as much interven-
tion as she chose or indeed required
for a safe outcome.
What is important for women
is that they are in control of their
birthing experience and feel that
they are supported.
They need to be supported in
their choice of maternity care
provider (midwife or obstetrician),
their choice of place of birth
(public or private hospital or home),
their choice of pregnancy and birth
preparation (prenatal classes) and
their choice of guests at the birth.
Women who have a planned
pregnancy and family support
are often well prepared for their
experiences and aware of their
Women who do not have a
planned pregnancy, and do not have
partner or family support, often do
not know of their choices.
So what choice is there?
Midwifery group practice offers
continuity of care with a group of
There are midwife-led clinics in
major hospitals and in some rural
There are independent midwives
offering home birth (although this
is controversial and the subject of
debate for another time).
There is care with an obstetrician
if the woman has private health
insurance or enough money to
pay for this type of care, there is
an obstetric-led model of care in
hospitals and there is GP-shared
What is crucial is women have
continuity of care with a person
that they know and trust and
with whom they have developed a
Another group which can offer
support to women, while at the
same time learning their profes-
sion, are midwifery students.
Midwifery students are required,
as part of their mandated practice,
to follow 30 women through their
pregnancy, birth and post-natal
experience. These students need
an invitation from women to share
Research undertaken in 2008 by
Sweet and Glover has shown that
the midwifery student builds a
personal professional relationship
with the woman and this leads to
an environment where the woman
feels supported by the student and
the student learns with, and from,
Regardless of who is with the
woman, the ultimate outcome is the
safe birth of the baby.
The ultimate gift that a woman
can give is to invite people to the
birth of her child.
This may be her partner (male
or female), her obstetrician, her
midwife, her midwifery student,
her doula, her mother, her father or
any other person that she wants to
Most hospitals have a limit on
the number of people a woman may
This invitation can only be
given by the woman and should
be received as a privilege and an
In all my 40 years of being a
midwife I have never taken a birth
for granted, never taken the power
of women for granted and never
taken for granted the privilege of
Thank you to the women who
have invited me to share this experi-
ence over these years and especially
to my own daughter, Joanne, who
invited her mother midwife to be
with her along with her husband
and nine-year-old son, and her
midwifery student, to experience
one of life's truly magical moments
-- a birth.
Magic happens with midwives.
If you would like to share your
pregnancy and birthing experience
with a student, please contact
Associate Professor Pauline Glover
at Flinders University on 8201 3404.
Associate Professor Pauline
Glover is course co-ordinator
Midwifery Programs, Flinders
What is important for women is that they
are in control of their birthing experience
and feel that they are supported.
The magic of childbirth
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