I've been talking a lot about "undisturbed birth" lately.
The language that we use in labour is so potent. I'm uncomfortable with many descriptive terms surrounding birth, such as "I'd like a normal birth"...or "She had a natural birth" ...or "We did a pure birth." It sounds like all others are abnormal or unnatural or impure. Birth just should be.
So many of my clients have what I describe as "she just went into labour and then had the baby" births. What was the common denominator? Each of those women were undisturbed in labour. My role is to keep her private space protected and undisturbed, to help her feel free to move undisturbed, to be the guardian of her cave. She remains hidden, unobserved, in a safe space.
Even if I'm with her, I cast my eyes down in respect, until I am addressed. Often, I am just a hand, or a whisper, or even a silent presence beyond the curtain. Her partner sits still, a great gift, close by.
The photo shows it all. She is safe, alone in the shower. Her partner, and I, and her midwife, watch the rippling reflections on the floor, listen to the rhythmic pulsing of the shower, become transported, lost in time.
Our job is to help her remain undisturbed.
And that's hard to do sometimes. There's a midwife, who I usually adore. But she walked into a birthing room recently, saying loudly, "Och, it's HOT in here!" We all put our fingers to our lips, hoping the woman dancing in the shower didn't hear. Later, the new mother said her body tensed up at that moment, and she thought, "Oh, no, she's loud - and Scottish!" and it took a long time for her to get back into her rhythm. She thinks that one disturbance added at least an hour to her labour.
An undisturbed birth is a challenge to achieve, but its effects are immeasurable.