CONSCIOUS AND MODERN APPROACH TO BIRTH

International scientific conference for doctors and midwives entitled “Conscious and modern approach to childbirth” organized by the Foundation "Woman and Nature", was held in Wroclaw on September 25th 2008. Scientific authorities from several countries have tried to answer the question, how the development of modern medicine has changed the approach to childbirth, and what are the consequences.

The Conference was opened with the premiere of film "Childbirth in harmony with nature." .

The film was realized by the president of foundation "Woman and Nature"  Preeti Agrawal and her team. This film met with very positive feedback.  “Childbirth in harmony with nature " is nearly an hour-long story filled with accounts of women, doctors, midwives and psychologists.

This film shows that childbirth need not be a painful and traumatic experience. It can be an enriching experience for women. The other advantages of natural childbirth is, as emphasized by psychotherapist Wojciech Eichelberger- the more intimate, family-oriented and soft the birth is ,the better for the person, who will grow of the baby.

Later in the conference lectures were given by: Elizabeth Margaret Stephens, midwife and president of the Royal College of Midwives from England, Eva Grundberg, a gynecologist-obstetrician from Sweden, gynecologist-obstetrician Edwin Chandraharan from England, midwife Deborah Jane Gould from England, doctor gynecologist-obstetrician, Michelle Fynes from England, Anna Bosanquet psychologist and a midwife from England, psychologist Elena Tornetii from U.S., and gynecologists-obstetricians professors from Poland: Marian Gabryś i Bogdan Chazan. It is impossible to cite here all the important issues, touched in the speeches of the  above mentioned persons , so let's focus on the most important, namely those related to non-traumatic childbirth.

Everyone who spoke agreed that childbirth is a physiological act not a disease, only the development of modern medical technologies has changed  this physiological act into disease. More and more women and part of the medical staff believe that speeding up the labor- by performing caesarean section- are actually desirable and necessary. Women do not want to wait and are afraid of the pain. Doctors and midwives stick to accurate medical procedures, resulting in frequent reaching for apparently, the simplest solution- caesarean section. WHO recommendations say that the use of caesarean section is justified in approximately 15% of the births, meanwhile in Poland, statistics say that about 30% of women deliver by cesarean and  this number is constantly growing (2% per year).

The question we should ask ourselves is “what really are the consequences of the rising rates of medical interventions during labor”?

Recent studies clearly show that the entry into the world through natural delivery is the best thing, a mother can give to her child. Passing through the birth canal baby acquires resistance to infection, his respiratory system has time to adapt to new conditions; psychological benefits are also very important-vulnerable to stress, through natural birth child becomes resistant to stress. Research conducted by scientists in different parts of the world indicate that suicide and the perpetrators of various crimes often were seeded by medicalised births. Born this way children also have asthma more often; examples of other medical ailments could be multiplied. The speakers tried to answer the question: why is this happening? In some cases cesarean birth is god-send for the mother and her child as in case of some medical conditions, but unfortunately today more and more births without any medical indications are ending with caesarean.

Elisabeth Stephens said that the majority of medical intervention in childbirth is not justified. Comparing humans to mammals she came to the obvious conclusion that the ability to give birth is a skill, that women are born with. Mrs. Stephens, for years has been dealing with home deliveries, where the environment for women is safe and comfortable. On the basis of her experience she came to the conclusion that the most difficult lesson to learn as a midwife was how not to interfere. She said that the birth with minimal interference runs smoothly on its own.

 Eva Gundberg began her lecture by recalling how our grandmothers were born. Surrounded by people they trust, at home, they gave birth without fear, fully trusting their bodies. What happened to us? Why we allowed a trusted midwife to be replaced by the foreign doctor? Transfer of births to the hospital has only hurt the public: responsibility for what happens in the delivery room is fuzzy, spread over many people and factors, as a result medical staff are less confident. Dependent on doctors, patients are afraid, doctors are also afraid of their possible errors. Dependence on technology leads to the use of forceps and cesarean deliveries increase. Birth in the hospital also promotes higher incidence of infections in newborns. Midwifery of the third millennium should follow a new direction, social change is needed. Position of doctor and a woman in labor should be equated, relationship should be a partnership- persuaded Dr. Gundberg. Obstetricians should also have a minimum of psychological knowledge and pursue his profession with the individual approach to each woman. Expectant mothers must be well educated and prepared for childbirth.

We should resign from the supine position during labor and shouldn’t separate children from their mothers-appealed Swedish doctor. We must not separate midwifery from other scientific disciplines- psychoneuroimmunology, endocrinology, and especially prenatal psychology. It is time to understand that the way the man Is born, has fundamental importance for his entire life. Midwifery in contemporary societies has new and very important role: can prevent violence, unite families and create conditions for the child, so that he arrives in to this world without fear and guilt.

Anna Bosanquet said that childbirth is an experience common to all people in the world, however, quite different to a doctor and a woman in labor. Births, were introduced to hospitals only in the twentieth century and has lead to the changing of roles : earlier the midwife was a guest in a laboring woman’s house, today the woman giving birth is a visitor in the hospital. How is it relevant for the quality of labor? The relevance is huge, just as great as the attitude of medical personnel to the woman who gives birth. Stress factors caused by foreign environment , presence of medical equipment, feeling of loneliness and inability to decide what is happening, makes childbirth traumatic. Respect, understanding and support for birthing women is fundamental to the quality of labor. The ideal solution is to transfer deliveries to the birth centers, where in safe conditions, the birth can take place spontaneously.

Elena Tornetti, author of a moving film : „Birth as we know it”, focused on the spiritual aspects of the act of birth and came to the conclusion that during a generation we can improve our quality of life within the whole species- we only need to reduce the level of pain and suffering during childbirth. Birth trauma leaves a huge imprint on humans: prenatal psychology research over the past 20 years shows that there is a direct correlation between the way we came into the world and experienced the world while being in the wombs of our mothers, and how we experience our bodies today and how we perceive the world around us. If a child during childbirth suffers with pain and anxiety(his own or mother’s), these feelings are stored in the limbic part of his brain. Throughout his life, man tends to recreate this painful birth experience. In other words: pain, is something, which is familiar to him and this becomes his comfort zone and he recreate it throughout his life. This is a very powerful mechanism.

Childbirth does not belong to either the midwives or the doctors - it belongs to the birthing woman .It is primarily a psychological and spiritual act. It is necessary that we learn to give birth and take care of birthing women again without fear(cortisone, called the stress hormone causes, that terrified woman cannot give birth- then it is necessary to use medical techniques). Only by increasing confidence in themselves and belief in their innate ability to give birth can we reduce the number of surgical interventions and contribute to the disappearance of the traumas related to birth.

Professor Marian Gabrys looked closely at the cooperation of doctors and midwives as an important factor leading to increase In the number of normal births. He called for the need to create friendly birth environment In hospitals which would minimize anxiety in laboring woman and increase the chances of non-invasive birth.

Midwives should take care of women whose pregnancies run properly, while doctors of women whose pregnancies are endangered. It is very important to separate normal pregnancies from the pathological ones. Professor also spoke about mutual respect, goodwill and the involvement of person accompanying the birthing woman, the values without which even the best organization and education will fail.

Professor Chazan cited several statistics, talking about infant mortality and the number of cesarean deliveries. He noted that investing In education and natural methods is much cheaper than purchasing expensive medical equipment. We should focus on both the aspects giving more importance to education. Further training is a professional and moral obligation of doctors and midwives- people who are involved in such an important event, which is the birth of a new child. It is also important to respect the dignity of a woman in labor, her child and seriously treat her point of view. Unfortunately, most often we deal with the situation, in which the woman giving birth is "invisible", and her baby is " a subject of ” delivery. Only appropriate, empathic care of women during the entire pregnancy and during delivery can help reduce the number of medical interventions.