Saturday, July 12, 2008

A noisy birth

Years ago when I was a staff midwife working on the 'labour ward' , I distinctly remember how disapproving all the staff would be if there was a 'shouter' or 'screamer' giving birth. And woe betide if she was the woman you were looking after. Having one of 'your' women scream her head off while giving birth was a poor reflection on you and your skills as a midwife - on your ability to 'control' the woman and the 'situation'. I remember saying things to women like "don't make that noise, conserve your energy and put it into your pushing."

Birthing noises
What I have come to realise over the years is that some women need to make noise, that it helps them to focus on giving birth. The other thing I have realised is that the noise women make during birth changes as labour progresses. So one of the tips I would pass on to students is to listen carefully, because the noises women make tell us about how she is progressing.

A lovely birth
Here is a video of a beautiful waterbirth at home. Close your eyes and listen to how the noises the woman makes changes from humming to grunting, which tells us that the baby isn't too far away. Then listen to the quiet, and the next noise you will hear is the baby crying - just wonderful!

The other thing I love about this video is the presence of the older sibling who is more interested in playing in the birthing pool.


Merrolee said...

Hi Sarah
really interesting clip to watch and to see how this woman uses her voice to center and focus on the work of labour! Being a paeds OT my interest was drawn to the young child in the pool - playing while mum hummed, but very aware of when things changed for his mum... and then his obvious checking out of her - was she crying, was she upset - no??? But clearly something from his perspective wasn't quite right - perhaps the reason for 'patting' her on her shoulder - a non-verbal response to what he saw as something perhaps not quite usual from his mum! And he persevered, even when Dad moved his hand away each time! Interesting!

Sarah Stewart said...

Thanks for the remarks about the child, Merrolee. To be honest, I hadn't paid too much attention to the child because I was focused on what the woman was doing. I have said before how much I love having children at births. But someone always needs to make sure that things are explained to them, about mummy being in pain, and they should always have someone there to support them.

The other thing I love about this video is how grumpy the woman is at the end of labor, telling her partner to stop touching her - another change in behavior that alerts you to what's going on.