Posted by: emjb | October 14, 2006

Normal birth, and designing a safe and effective haven

I love a good birth story.

I can’t think of a better example than the birth this morning of laborpayne’s baby boy. She’s a career woman, mother of several (I can’t keep track, possibly six now!) kids, and a doula and homebirth advocate.

Her beautiful pictures of herself in labor and her amazingly coherent blogging DURING labor (jeez!) are just awe-inspiring. I just want to quote the bit that stuck out to me:

I have to stand upright for each contraction- the pain is worse if I sit or god forbid, lay down. My body wants to be upright. Everyone I’ve shown my birth space to, keeps saying, where’s the bed? I won’t birth in a bed, perhaps a squat or on all fours if I don’t feel like standing. I’ll do what my body tells me when the time comes. Now my job is to get through each contraction that comes faithfully every 10 minutes- the downward pressure is all encompassing- like diving into the deep end of a pool.

And I couldn’t help thinking…yes, why do we have beds in our birth spaces at all? Why not some sort of comfy couch with bars for pulling on and squatting, and a well-cushioned floor for all-fours and kneeling? Why not a rope with handles (this was something I saw in Spiritual Midwifery that I dearly wanted at my birth but couldn’t figure out how to do) hanging from the ceiling, so I woman could pull down on it?

I wish I could commission a study of birthing furniture that would actually help women rather than hinder them. What would the optimum birth space look like? I think laborpayne has the right idea.

What’s funny is thinking about that, the optimum space would look more like a gym than a bedroom. But then, since labor is labor, is work, that makes perfect sense.

Congratulations to laborpayne and her new son, little Josiah.


Update: did a little googling. Here‘s a description of a “woman-led” birth center design, with pictures, but honestly, I think it’s basically a fancy hotel room…the center is still the bed. Though the birth tub room is pretty bitchin.’

Here’s an interesting midwife study in process that looks at the concept of “Birth Territory” and its affect on laboring women.

Ooh, and here‘s a similar study out of New Zealand and Australia (NZ has some kickass midwifery practices, I’ve heard).


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