Is a good birth down to luck?

So, is a good birth down to luck? Certainly if you’ve gone down the standard NHS Consultant Unit route and you come out at the other end thinking you’ve had a good birth, then yes, it is ABSOLUTELY down to luck.  You may just have timed your labour to coincide with the shift of a fantastic, woman-centred midwife who still has enough fight left in her to treat the guidelines as exactly that – just guidelines rather than rules.  You may have been lucky enough to have been encouraged to stay active in a quiet, dimly lit room, to have been encouraged that yes, you could do it without being drugged, and to have managed to give birth before this brilliant midwife finished her shift and was replaced by someone not quite so keen on natural birth.  You may have been lucky enough to give birth at a time when the unit was quiet so that this aforementioned midwife didn’t have 2, 3 or 4 other women in labour to look after…………..

I attended a home birth last week.  First time parents, E & A, late twenties, well educated, intelligent.  Most of their friends have started having babies and E’s best friend gave birth last year in the local consultant unit.  She was one of the unlucky ones.  Suffice to say, if she is ever brave enough to have more children after what she went through, they will be born at home.  As a result of her experience, my client was scared enough to think about homebirth, perhaps not the ideal start to a pregnancy but as it turned out, her friend’s misfortune became the making of her own “lucky” birth.

Her partner, A, was not keen on the idea initially, he knew no one else who had given birth at home.  Indeed, most of the men he knew who had talked about their partners’ births thought that it was a ridiculous idea – after all, their women had all needed lots of medical help, many of them had even needed caesareans…… He was eventually persuaded to go to a local home birth group to find out more and as time went on he started to come around to the idea.  In the meantime, E had done a lot of homework, read books, trawled the internet and was adamant that home birth was for her.  The decision was made to hire a doula and with that extra support, A entered fully into the spirit of things.

E’s waters went some time before labour started, but despite protestations from the hospital, she stayed at home to wait for labour to start.  She knew enough about how to prevent infection, and enough about her rights, to know that she didn’t have to accept the hospital’s kind offer to induce her.

Labour started slowly the next day and after spending a relaxed day together, things picked up enough in the evening to call me.  By the time the midwives arrived late evening, E was in active labour and soon got into her pool.  We had put together a short birth plan to ensure that the midwives knew what E did and didn’t want, and it was stuck to.  Before long, E and A’s baby was born straight into the waiting hands of his daddy – a calm, quiet, fast birth, without the use of drugs, stitches or any medical interventions.  A physiological third stage followed.

A couple of hours later, I left this new family tucked up in their own bed, baby feeding well and everybody happy.  When I mentioned to someone the next day that I had been at a lovely home birth to first time parents, they said “gosh, wasn’t she lucky?”  Yes she WAS lucky – lucky that she had had the foresight to put such a huge amount of planning and research into doing what she could to make sure she had the best birth possible………………….. 😉

About Pippi Longstocking

Pippi has had one emergency caesarean and two elective caesareans, followed by a VBA3C (her uterus did not explode and she and her baby did not die, as previously predicted by two consultant obstetricians). She has attended many births in her role as a doula and is also verging on the fanatical when it comes to making birth better for all.
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4 Responses to Is a good birth down to luck?

  1. Suzanne Wheatley says:

    While I do think doulas have a place for women giving birth who choose to have one, I also think the midwives, doctors and other carers involved have their place too. It comes across (in numerous entries by doulas on to websites) that doulas have an intense hatred of these other professions. The above statements in your article infer that most midwives are bad and don’t have their mothers-to-be’s interests at heart and if I were a midwife I think I’d be quite insulted at the bad press doulas frequently give them.
    I’m not disputing the shortcomings of the NHS but the constant slagging off that doulas give these carers is potentionally going to alienate doulas from the hospital process, surely doulas should be there to complement the whole process, not cause hostility.

    • Hmmm, I’m sorry you feel I come across as a midwife hater Suzanne – far from it actually. What I DO hate is the maternity system that exists within out culture, particularly in the UK, mostly as a result from a simple lack of funding. The vast majority of midwives do a very difficult job, doing ridiculous hours, are massively overstretched and have their hands tied during every shift because of the protocols that they have to work within.
      Most would love to be able to spend time giving quality one-to-one care but the simple fact is this – they can’t. And until the day they can, doulas are not a luxury, they are a necessity and I think any woman who plans a hospital birth without one is very very brave.
      I would give anything to be done out of a job because there was no longer a need for doulas because the NHS suddenly caught on and gave us an extra few thousand midwives. Can’t see it happening 🙁
      And for the record, I have NEVER caused any hostility with a midwife and never will – that’s the last thing that would ever cross my mind and would go against everything that I believe makes for a better birth.

  2. Tiffany Aching says:

    Thank you, it helps to have our views challenged. So, OK, here goes with a response… Doulas, as a professional group, do not hate midwives, doctors or women. Some might have intensely difficult relationships with specific practitioners, but that is a whole other issue. Doulas generally know which practitioners are going to be supportive of a VBAC, which are happy to support a woman who has reached the 42nd week of pregnancy, and which they would turn to for good surgery should that become necessary. They also know which they would avoid if at all possible because women generally leave the consultation in tears… Since this reply is going to be a long one, I’ve made a post about it. Doulas generally are very adept at diffusing tension in the birth space, or taking the tension elsewhere to keep it away from the woman, but sometimes they need a space to rant and to release some of the tension they kept out of the birth place.

  3. Emma Dudley says:

    I still love reading this… I feel so blessed to have Alex and will remember that night Forever! Amazing xxxx