Last night was our monthly parents meeting. Parents who have birthed with us and those who will birth with us and some who are not birthing with us, but using our services are all invited. We sit in a circle on the floor, with mats and benches if need, in our sala (this room is used for yoga and other body work and movement classes) and go round in a circle and each person introduces their self and tells either their story or something abut them selves. Its really beautiful to hear both mothers and fathers stories of; how they came to our clinic, what they had to challenge to get the birth of their dreams, their birth story and what they have learned, or how they have changed from their experience.
This monthly session, lasting 2 hours but always going over time, is consistently full of parents wanting to share their experiences and encourage the parents who are yet to begin their journey. Often times those who had not considered home birth, decide to go for their birth at home. The stories are honest and heart felt. They are never sugar coated and much is spoken about the ‘pain and fear’ of birth at home and no chemical pain relief. In Barcelona, normal birth is a birth with an epidural and anything that comes out of the vagina, even ventouse or forceps are considered ‘normal’.
This is my 3rd meeting with the parents of our clinic and I was moved to write about it because of the shear power of the individual experiences of each couple. Each meeting is charged with emotion,amazing honesty and an intense feeling of joyful victory. Many of the women who birth with us have been told for one reason or another that they were not capable of birthing their own baby with out some kind of medical intervention. They were told that their babies were either too big or too small to have with out assistance. Some of them had had cesareans because of various causes, which would make any midwife in the UK or any other northern European country’s head spin. Long labours in Spain are labours over 6 hours!! Yes 6 hours and if you have not give birth within this time slot, they put up syntocinon and you are not given a choice! This is why there are so many instrumental and cesarean births in Spain.
Trusted and relevant evidence to do with modern obstetrics are completely disregarded in Spain and women are left doubting their ability to do what is as natural as making their baby, that being birthing it. Their partners are also given no place beside the mothers and are never able to see the goddess rise in the women they love. Hearing the stories shared monthly by more and more couples and seeing the change in their lives as well as knowing that these everyday (most are not hippies) people are sharing their amazing and inspiring stories, not just at our meetings, but with friends and family, encourages me that change is happening here.
Where ever you are as a midwife or birth support worker, please consider using some of your antenatal class time for allowing birth stories to be shared. They can really change the birth experience for the better.