Catching Babies: a gift for the Duchess of Cambridge

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I wonder how Kate is feeling. I can remember being at this stage in my pregnancy with my first baby @abglyph, and not feeling at all caught up in the ‘fear of childbirth‘ that now sadly prevails our culture. I often ask myself when did it all happen, this shift in women’s self-belief that they can birth their baby?

I recently asked a 93 year old ex-midwife if she remembered whether women were afraid of childbirth in her days of practise, and she was clear that they weren’t. ‘Oh no, women didn’t seem to be at all frightened of having babies, it was an everyday occurrence. The only thing they worried about was paying the bill!’ That of course was pre NHS, and most babies were born at home. Most women now give birth in hospital, and ironically as medical surveillance increases in the name of safety, women are becoming more fearful.

I was pleased to read that writer and journalist Beverley Turner asked Kate to consider the fact that the Queen gave birth to her Royal babies at home, under the direct care of a midwife.  Contrary to current evidence hospital is now viewed as being the safest place to have a baby, and Kate is following the trend (maybe not her decision?) and will therefore be further cementing hospital birth as a cultural norm. Kate’s Royal baby is apparently going to be ‘delivered’ by two ‘surgeon-gynaecologists’, so it seems problems are anticipated. Although Kate is reported to wanting a ‘natural birth’, having two male doctors in attendance to facilitate her request may not be the best option, and could affect her labour. My words do not intend to further polarise our professions. Both my daughters needed (and still need) their wonderful obstetricians, as many other women do. But those very doctors would agree with me wholeheartedly, that midwives are the experts of normal or natural childbirth. I do hope the medical advisors to the Royal Family, and certainly the two top doctors chosen to be in charge at this momentous occasion, have read the latest evidence on the potential effects of medical intervention during childbirth, and pay heed. Maybe Kate and William are already well aware, and are quietly asserting their wishes. We’ll never know.

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Alan Farthing (left) and Marcus Setchell (right).

I have it on good authority that Kate will be giving birth in The Lindo Wing, which is a private part of an NHS hospital. I am also informed that whilst champagne is on the menu, there are no birthing pools at the Lindo, and the epidural rate is 100%, (although the latter is not confirmed as my request through Freedom of Information channels hasn’t been fulfilled to date). I am hopeful however, that Kate’s alleged decision to use hypo-birthing techniques during labour (many of her friends used Natal Therapy) will keep her focused to achieve the birth she wants. I am less hopeful that Farthing and Setchell have read Spiritual Midwifery.

With the rest of the world, I now wait with baited breath. But my interest isn’t in the sex or weight of our new Royal, but more about how he or she enters the world.

Go Kate! You can do it.

PS

When I met up with the inspirational Alison Baum, CEO of Best Beginnings last month, we decided to send Kate a package, with lots of goodies from Best Beginnings (including info on the new app), and a copy of Catching Babies. I wonder if she’s read it yet? If she has, I hope she enjoyed it.

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