This blog is part of our Weaving Wisdom series aimed at informing expectant parents about birth choices and encouraging proactive management of both the pregnancy and birth periods.
Byline: Louïne van der Vyver and Karin Steyn
“What a woman needs in pregnancy and birth is to be reassured and kept informed. The confidence to birth requires a lot of wisdom and belief in what the mom’s body can do,” says Phindi Mashinini, a private midwife at Genesis Clinic in Johannesburg.
The midwife believes in the wisdom of natural design and perfect timing.
Phindi says a mother needs to be reassured that her caregiver believes and trusts in her body’s ability. A labouring mother must trust her caregiver and feel that she is safe and in good hands. Then she can allow herself to access the deep-rooted knowledge that she is able to birth her baby.
“The midwife believes in the wisdom of natural design and perfect timing, that the body knows how best to prepare for birth – the hormones are there, the lubricants are there and it is all natural. This process needs to be respected and supported,” she says.
Pain management in labour The use of a doula in labour to support the birthing couple is highly recommended as a ‘midwife’s tool’ for pain management. “Women about to give birth need other women around them. This is their biggest comfort and allows a woman to feel secure and empowered. Loving and supportive words from other women such as ‘you can do this’ and ‘your body is made to do this’ connect a woman to her strength, keep her upbeat and instil confidence and perseverance,” says Phindi.
With the right emotional support, interventions are frequently not required to alter or manage the labour. Midwives respect the experience of pain or discomfort as an opportunity for inner connection, for the mother to connect more deeply with her body and her baby, shifting positions and making adjustments to ease baby on its journey from the womb. The sensations of birth prepare the mother to bid farewell to the many weeks of pregnancy and be ready to meet her baby in person.
Apart from a doula, private midwives like Phindi choose to use natural forms of pain management, such as:
What about epidurals? Epidurals are rarely carried out at a birthing clinic like Genesis and will only be considered when the mother experiences the birth as being unmanageable or she feels out of control. It might be a relief that the mother loses sensations of pain after an epidural, but she will not be able to connect as easily to her body’s ability to push effectively and may need assistance in delivering the baby.
Natural birth and the urge to push A woman must be allowed to receive the signal to push from her body. The mother should be encouraged to verbalise what sensations she feels in her body and supported to work with those. Phindi says that unnecessary instructions, such a ‘Stop pushing!’, can impede the flow of labour that alters the birthing mother’s mind and that can delay the imminent delivery of the baby. If the mother does not immediately experience the urge to push, patience is required to allow the body to rest and to prepare the body to release the baby.
“Labour needs to be allowed to follow its own course without unnecessary interference or coaching,” says Phindi.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of 1Life or its employees.