I often talk to Catherine (who is training as a doula) about natural childbirth. It is a topic we have always shared an interest in, even from way before I was married and had my kids. I went to the birth of her second child…and that was amazing. The first birth I’d ever seen! (+ I assisted at my friend’s son’s birth in ’98)

I found this quote (from this page) interesting, especially the last paragraph:

Women may feel more comfortable using the services of a doula, a midwife or other labor assistant in addition to an obstetrician/ gynecologist. Who you choose to attend or assist your childbirth can depend on whether or not you have your child in a hospital.

A doula — a Greek term for woman’s servant — is a support person who provides continuous emotional, physical and informative comfort to ease a woman during and after the birth process. Doulas are trained to provide labor support, but may or may not have health care education, and they do not perform clinical tasks.

According to the Doulas of North America, there are two types of doulas: birth doulas who attend the labor and postpartum doulas who provide mother and newborn care, help with errands and breast feeding support. The DONA Web site adds that doulas provide information on various birth options — including the risks, benefits, precautions and possible safety interventions for each option.

When a doula is present, some women feel less need for pain medications, or may postpone them until later stages of labor. A randomize controlled study by Dr. John Kennell and Dr. Marshall Klaus found that cesarean rates in induced labors were reduced from 64 percent to 20 percent when a doula was present, according to DONA. Drs. Kennell and Klaus also noticed a decrease in the incidence of complications and an increased rate of mother-child bonding when doulas assisted a birth.

Today I’ve been reading about the increase in the number of caesarean section births. It appears there could be a few reasons for this increase. In Armidale there used to be a joke that the local obstetrician made sure he’d arranged his caesareans on particular days so it didn’t muck up his golf plans. I’m sure there was some truth in this. But seriously, if a doctor is trained in a particular procedure, is competent at it and gets a lot of money for it, it would hardly be in his interest to encourage women to give birth naturally; his services wouldn’t even be required. I have always seen the interest of the medical practitioner as a reason for the unnecessarily high rate of caesarean births. (also not being insignificant may be the doc’s fear of being sued – more common in non-c/s) But it appears that (this article documents) another reason for the over 30% c/s rate in Australia, which is convenience (can you believe it?) for the mother.

This article from The Age raises some of the questions we should think about – how does our culture view babies/childbirth practices?

Article: The folly in blindly turning away from natural birth. (written by a medical practitioner)

I find this odd but it is meant to be fair to both sides. Professor Steer clearly has big brains – but he doesn’t quote which expert told him of the oddity of evolution which increased our top but not our bottom.