Are Science Studies for Birth Really What They Are Cracked Up to Be?

Birth worker frustrations
Frustrations as a Birth Worker
December 7, 2017
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Are Science Studies for Birth Really What They Are Cracked Up to Be?

science-studies-birth

Call me old fashioned…

Birth has become an industry where women are in a twilight zone – a commodity, a vessel and an experiment. I have been teaching my form of EmbodyBirthTM childbirth preparation for almost 21 years now using the ancient language of birth that has always been and will always be. The language of instinctive, intuitive movement and dance that is self-referenced and sourced from one’s instincts in connection to one’s baby.

I am in a dilemma.

I see birth workers often applaud the evidence base and scientific literature including randomized studies that tell us how a woman’s body behaves before and/or during labour, then make firm conclusions that comes from this or that particular study looking at how a mother, her baby and birth unravels.

The instinctive studies are not well received because they are generally anecdotal and have not been approved by a medical organization to be deemed legitimate. For me they are of greatest value because we are not just looking at birth from a physical and physiological point of view – we are energetically and emotionally attuned to feel the depth of birth awareness that unfolds from a more organic point of view. Taking into account many factors that are not set up to prove a particular point that is conducted in isolation.

 

This morning, I was reading a study on whether placing women in a hands and knees posture and pelvic rocking exercises from 37 weeks gestation if baby is in an OP position will make any difference to the OP position when she enters labour.

The following are the results and conclusion from the study.

RESULTS:

1046 women in the intervention group and 1209 women in the control group remained in the study until they went into labour. No significant difference existed between the groups for the incidence of occiput posterior position at birth: 105 (8.1%) women in the intervention group and 98 (7.8%) in the control group had a baby in a posterior position at delivery (difference in risk 0.3%, 95% confidence interval -1.8 to 2.4). The incidence of fetal transverse arrest was 3.4% (44 women) in the intervention group and 3.0% (38 women) in the control group (difference in risk 0.4, -1 to 1.7). No differences occurred between intervention and control groups for induction of labour, use of epidural, duration of labour, mode of delivery, use of episiotomy, or Apgar score.

CONCLUSION:

Hands and knees exercise with pelvic rocking from 37 weeks’ gestation to the onset of labour did not reduce the incidence of persistent occiput posterior position at birth.

 

Personally, with the work I do, I found this study to be very limited and the pervading conclusion to also be misleading. There is much more than just placing women on hands and knees and pelvic rock at 37 weeks that will or will not encourage her baby to align into a “normal” position in her pelvis. There are so many factors that are too numerous to list that will influence a baby’s positioning, not just hands, knees and rocking.

I am also curious to know what were these mothers doing through their pregnancy in terms of prenatal positioning, their emotional states, pelvic mobility, pelvic shape, exercising or not and the fact that some babies no matter what we “try” to do will remain in a certain position because that’s just how they want to be born and no matter what we “do”, that’s their mode of expression.

The other criticism I have is that when trials like these are done there is an artificial set up that is required to get the “data” on the studies that are not in alignment with how instinctive birth unfolds.

Emotionally if a mother knows that she is part of a trial how does this affect the “primitive” brain? How can she completely relax when she is being instructed and directed as opposed to primal and instinctual free form? I do feel that it would be more beneficial to look at these kinds of studies with a sense of curiosity rather than the be all and end all conclusive set in stone data we are given.

Doesn’t hurt to ask further questions ourselves and look a little deeper.

 

I also worry that we are so adamant that we need studies to prove theories when giving birth is not a theory but an organic living alive process that cannot, at its core, be randomized, controlled, watched and dissected to fit into studies to prove anything much. They are interesting and give us some indications of what birth looks like under “a study” limitation in an environment that is usually not sympathetic to what birth needs.

I hazard a guess as well that the mindset of those around conducting the “study” when a mother is in third trimester or in labour will also influence the mothers body and her ability to open and/or close, release and surrender or tighten and resist.

Birth is 90% energy based. Can we measure energy via studies??? It must be felt not calculated with manmade instruments of Science. It needs a soft landing and room to breathe. If we perhaps were less sterile in our studies and more thoughtful in our approach I believe the “conclusions” made would take on a very different perspective that makes more sense for women and their babies in childbirth.

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