An extract from “gentle birth gentle mothering” by Sarah J. Buckley MD.

When birth is undisturbed, our birthing hormones can take us into ecstasy, so that we enter motherhood awakened and transformed.

This is not just a good feeling; the post birth hormones that suffuse the brain of a new mother and her baby also catalyse profound neurological changes.

These changes give the new mother personal empowerment, physical strength, and an intuitive sense of her baby’s needs, and they prepare both partners for the pleasurable mutual dependency that will ensure a mothers care and protection and her baby’s survival.

Undisturbed birth represents the smoothest hormonal orchestration of the birth process, and therefore the easiest transition possible; from pregnancy to birth and lactation, for each woman. Anything that disturbs a laboring woman’s sense of safety and privacy will disrupt the birth process. This definition covers most of modern obstetrics, which has created an entire industry around the observation and monitoring of pregnant and birthing women. Underlying this is an ingrained distrust of women’s bodies and of the natural process of gestation and birth.

So how can we avoid disturbing the process of birth? G. Kloosterman, Dutch professor of obstetrics says;

Spontaneous labor in a normal woman is an event marked by a number of processes so complicated and so perfectly attuned to each other that any interference will only detract from the optimal character. The only thing required from the bystanders is that they show respect for this awe-inspiring process by complying with the first rule of medicine: do no harm.

Having an Undisturbed Birth – Suggestions for birthing women

  • Take responsibility for your health, healing and wholeness before and during your childbearing years
  • Care for yourself well during pregnancy, focusing on lowering stress (HypnoBirthing can help with this) and having a good diet, adequate rest, and regular exercise
  • Consider using centering activities like yoga and meditation (or HypnoBirthing)
  • Choose a model of care that enhances natural and undisturbed birth, especially homebirth, birth centre and or one on one midwifery
  • Arrange support according to your individual needs – trust, a loving relationship and continuity of care with support people are important
  • Consider having an advocate at your hospital birth; ideally your own private midwife or doula, who can help protect your birthing space and support your partner, if present.

Suggestions for caregivers

  • Ensure an atmosphere in which the laboring woman feels private, safe, unobserved and free to follow her instincts
  • Reduce higher brain stimulation by keeping lighting and noises soft, and words to a minimum
  • Cover the clock and other technical equipment
  • Avoid procedures unless absolutely necessary
  • Avoid talking to the laboring woman unless absolutely necessary
  • Avoid drugs and caesarean surgeries unless absolutely necessary

First hour following the birth

  • Don’t separate mother and baby for any reason – resuscitation will be more effective if the cord is left attached
  • Keep lighting low and the room warm, beginning right before the birth
  • Maintain an atmosphere of quiet and calm
  • Facilitate immediate and uninterrupted skin to skin contact between mother and baby. Weighing, measuring and bathing the baby is unnecessary at this time.
  • Support breastfeeding soon after birth, ideally allowing the baby to self attach without disturbance.