Corona, Coercion, Pregnancy and Birth Part 1

I dedicate much of my time, to supporting the over 4,000 members of my online groups, in their often, sadly, difficult journey, to have their informed birth choices supported.

I have blogged about this before in my “Coercion and reasons not to home birth” blog post.

Since coronavirus impacted, I am spending upwards of 60 hours a week doing even more of this, mostly in groups, against a backdrop of increasing coercion.

These snapshot figures from a quick poll in my Home Birth Support Group, should make over arching maternity services hang their heads in shame.

TWO HUNDRED AND THIRTY ONE REASONS NOT TO HOME BIRTH (52 due to covid) and only ELEVEN saying they have been supported to home birth.

Part 2 of this blog has more on women’s words on the poll.

Freebirth enquiries are through the roof, leading me to establish my paid (£25), Freebirth and Emergency Childbirth Group, for those wanting to explore more around freebirth, unassisted pregnancy and birth before arrival of a midwife. This was a response to women’s requests. It is half course, half facebook group.

You would think routine sweeps and induction in a time of social distancing would be no more, but having seen a reduction, I am now seeing surge of induction and high risking of women, problems that miraculously appear once induction has been declined, a women who was previously enjoying a happy, healthy pregnancy, suddenly terrified by “dead baby” language, whereas only moments before there was no issue.

March was the month of cancelled home births, April saw post after post after post about big babies, suddenly all the group babies were enormous and should be induced, with no evidence to back that up, more about “BIG BABY“, HERE and HERE. Home birth services maybe reopening, but there is a clear reluctance to support women to access them.

May however, May is the month of the SMALL BABY – lots of our members babies have shrunk or are shrinking.

It is incredible to see the patterns emerging, what issue is the flavour of this month.

I am endlessly fascinated that the whole NHS, England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, is working on protocol driven by one organisation and is trying to expand this into big baby as well as small.

Training, software, paperwork etc is all coming from one organisation – an organisation that at the time of typing, as a private company limited by guarantee, doesn’t even have a set of audited accounts.

There are no national guidelines and or plain language documents to share with women and birthing people and yet, GAP/GROW has a virtual monopoly on the NHS, with each Trust responsible for its own implementation.

It is my personal view that there is a direct link between GAP/GROW, with its lack of clarity, and every increasing induction rates.

I also believe we have lost sight of normal and that the greatest risk is in the birth room is iatrogenic (medically caused) harm.

There is a cost to women of all this intervention, in terms of trauma, birth injury, post traumatic stress, often misdiagnosed as post natal depression because then the cause is the “woman and her mental health” rather than what she suffered during her pregnancy and during her birth, being treated like a ticking time bomb and not the birthing goddess she is.

We have had many, many birth stories in the HOME BIRTH GROUP SUPPORT GROUP UK and FREEBIRTH AND EMERGENCY CHILDBIRTH SUPPORT GROUP UK, the vast, vast majority of them positive, whether transfer took place or pathways change, the vast majority of our members, home birthing against medical advice.

The one thing all our members are is educated in their rights to body autonomy.

Freebirth is up, birth before arrival rates are up and yet these women and babies are fine and their births are running smoothly.

The numbers of women in group who are “high risk” is ridiculous.

“It (pressure to induce) has always been bad but I have never known anything like this – I believe its about control and fear, to control their own fears in my view some health care professionals are dealing with them, by trying to control their work environment and so by default birthing women, subconsciously, but it doesn’t change what is happening.”

I have concerns about the “boy who cried wolf” effect of endless intervention – medical intervention saves lives, there is no doubt but we need to get back to the days it was for the few who needed it and not the many who don’t.

This has to stop somehow and I am proud to say for the women I support, they are taking charge and stopping it for themselves.

For these women the genie is out of the bottle and it is never going back.

If you have found my blog and support helpful and would like to support my work – you can on my DONATE page.

If this blog post raises questions for you please feel free to contact me or join one of the groups I co-admin which can be found HERE.

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About Samantha

Samantha Gadsden walks with women on their life’s journeys. She is an experienced Doula, based close to Cardiff in South Wales, mother to 4 children and wife to Eddie, more information can be found on her facebook page, Samantha Gadsden Doula and her website, Caerphilly DoulaSOS DoulaTelephone and online support is always available.

You can also join one of her network of supportive GROUPS.