Thursday, September 19, 2013

AKA Transformation

A professor of mine recently asked us to explore transitional states of change~

Why Sal, I'm so glad you asked. A very challenging transitional state of change for many women that classifies them as a "person at risk" would be pregnancy and birth. At risk for what you may ask?  Well, having a baby, of course.

growing their family. hospital policies. the joy of birth. birth trauma. interventions. confusion. trials of patience. a new relationship. a breastfeeding relationship. transformation.
A "person at risk" -in the birth sense- aka a person in need of love, support and empowerment.

Birth is a transformational time in a woman's life; it will shape what kind of mother she will be, who she is as a person, how she responds to her mate and so much more. It is a pivotal and sacred time in a woman's life that all too often in America is time that ends with birth trauma and PTSD and beyond the emotional and physical effects of birth, if a woman has had a cesarean, the way she births will be impacted for each and every subsequent birth and her breastfeeding relationship may be affected. Her birth experience can lead to and help ward off postpartum depression; undiagnosed and untreated, PPD can lead to postpartum psychosis at its worst or difficulty parenting at its best.

A doula, is associated with a more safe and satisfying birth experience. A doula meets with you prenatally to discuss your goals for birth and how you and your partner desire to journey through this experience. She helps you sort through and figure our what's important to you, not making decisions for you but empowering you to make your own informed decisions and feel confident and ready for birth. A doula joins you whenever you desire for her to and provides continuous emotional and physical support. Studies show this type of continuous support to be associated with many health benefits for mother and baby. Having the support of a birth professional allows the mother and her partner to feel more confident and in the occurrence of a hospital birth allows for better communication between the parents and staff. Far too often, women without trained, professional support can be left feeling taken advantage of and defeated and our medical model is often the cause of this. 

Currently, America has a cesarean rate double that of what the WHO recommends, the highest childbirth costs in the word and there are 39 other countries with better maternal and infant mortality rates. Women seeking a doula-assisted birth aim to offset unnecessary medical interventions that have become common place in our hospitals. So am I saying a doula would not have a place if it weren't for the horrible state of our maternity care? Not at all! Birth is still an influential time in a woman's life where she deserves to be fully supported and culturally speaking it is made obvious that support is not only important from her partner but other women as well. A doula, is trained and experienced in birth and works together with you family and loved ones to provide continuous support. For a home birth or birth center birth, a woman may seek the support of a doula to help her achieve an unmedicated birth as comfortably as possible with the idea that "women surround women" in birth. 

As we discussed "crisis" in class, the stage of transition kept popping up in my head. (I italicize "stage" because I prefer not to put labor into a box and say this happens for this time period, and then this and then that and so forth - every woman and every birth is different) Anyhow, sorry for that tangent. Transition is [for most women] the most intense part of labor, it is associated with more visible bodily attributes such as shaking, vomiting and cold feet (pun intended ;)) at this point in time women either really rely on their birth team or become extremely internal, if a woman has experienced sexual trauma or has any fears surrounding birth or past traumas, this is usually the point where those surface- everything about transition seems related to crisis.

So, the question I pose to you, if birth is a transition and the transition phase of birth is a crisis, is birth a crisis? 
This lead me to explore the definition of crisis and I found these to be among them:

a stage in a sequence of events at which the trend of all future events, especially for better or for worse, is determined; turning point.
a dramatic emotional or circumstantial upheaval in a person's life.
Medicine/Medical .
the point in the course of a serious disease at which a decisive change occurs, leading either to recovery or to death. <--- we could modify that to say the point in which the first stage of labor becomes the second stage (pushing)

With those definitions, I'd say yes, birth is a "crisis" or better to be called a transformational time and hopefully a positive one on the Journey of Life.

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Jennifer Valencia | Labor & Postpartum Doula | 928.300.1337


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