I’ve been pondering for my while whether to publicly share here the story of my son’s birth. As a doula, it is never about me. My birth and parenting experiences are only relevant to my clients if they have meant I know, without looking, of some information or signposts that may be of use to my clients. How I birthed and parent is my journey, my choices and has nothing to do with how I support families. Clients are going to make decisions that are not the decisions I would make because they are not me and their journey is not my journey. And I support them unconditionally, without judgement, to do so.
But as a doula and a facilitator of a Positive Birth Group, I have had comments from women whose birth and parenting journeys did not turn out how they wanted, or who made decisions they think do not “fit” with what I “believe in”, that they do not feel welcome within the Positive Birth Movement, or even that they felt they could not have a doula because of it.
For the record, doulas, certainly Doula UK doulas, are for any kind of birth, any kind of mama. We might not all be the right doula for any one family, but there will be one that is right for you and we will not judge. With Doula UK it’s in our Code of Conduct: we “recognise that womens’ choices are valid and that a woman assumes responsibility for the birth, parenting style or feeding method that she feels is right for her and her baby”.
The Positive Birth Movement is not about any one kind of birth. It is not about “natural” birth, it is not about home birth. According to the Positive Birth Movement, Positive Birth means:
- Women are where they want to be
- Choices are informed by reality not fear
- Mothers are empowered and enriched
- Memories are warm and proud
If you want to have a home birth and have a home water birth feeling empowered and supported, that’s a positive birth. If you don’t want to be at home, and birth in a birth centre, then that may be your positive birth. If you want to be in a consultant led unit and make an informed decision to have an early epidural that may be your positive birth. If you wanted to be at home but develop life-threatening complications that mean you know you need medical assistance, then being in hospital is where you want to be in the circumstances you were in, and that can be a positive birth.
My son’s birth was not the birth I had planned, but it was a positive birth. It’s a great example of how births that go “wrong” can still be positive, which is why I was considering sharing it. I have decided, for now, to not share the whole story publicly online. Just because it’s special to me, I can’t tell it without being personal about others and once it’s online, anything could happen. But here is a photo of me at my son’s birth, that has been made into a poster for Doula UK. I hope you agree that it shows you don’t need to be at home, surrounded by candles, to have a positive birth.