Friday, 2 January 2009

Bedtime reading

I have just finished reading The Birth House by Ami McKay. It is a wonderful story of a girl who becomes apprenticed to a traditional rural midwife in Newfoundland. They face the arrival of a new maternity unit with modern facilities that allow birth to be controlled by doctors, made shorter by pitocin and drug free by twilight sleep, of course this means other interventions - all women have episiotomies, babies all have forceps applied to their heads, the women miss their babies being born, and don't get that wonder, that special moment, or that 'I could climb the world' feeling.

Fortunately, in this story, the women's experience of wonderful one to one woman centred care carries the day. Unfortunately it didn't in the rest of the west and we have controlled, doctor led births without other women's support. Time for a change - get your best friend, mum, sister, doula, or that woman who lives down the road that is passionate about birth (me) to be there, to whisper encouragements, hold you up, distract you, and pass on that forgotten message -
birth is what women do.

I love the scene where the labouring woman makes a 'groaning cake' assisted by her friends and the midwife. The making is a distration, the smell of baking relaxing, the companionship strengthening and the result - a cake to sustain through breastfeeding in the hours to come.

The next book I am reading? Call the midwife by - oh I forget - I'll write about it next time.