When thousands of women complain of the same side effects from their contraception; when business is considering adopting period leave; when maternal morbidity and mortality is rising in the USA and the western world has abysmal breastfeeding success rates, we have a much bigger problem than any of those issues individually suggest.
Here’s the thing about PND, we don’t really know what does cause it. But we do know what the risk factors are, lack of sleep is indeed one of them, as are stress and feelings of failure - so why are we advising mothers with PND or mothers already at risk of PND to engage in practices that will most likely increase their stress levels and interfere with their sleep even more?
The medical community is failing people. That's why they turn to Facebook groups and Google for answers. That's why you get people passionately insisting that XYZ that worked for them, will work for everyone. Thats why you get the "mummy wars" hot-topics: Vaginal vs Cesarean, Breast v's Bottle, Vax or No Vax, Sleep Train or Attachment Parent, and the accompying accusations of causing 'shame' and 'judgement' or of being a 'sanctimommy' or 'breast/Nazi". That's why you get people accusing eachother of being horrible parents and saying things like "your kids should be taken away".
Because you have all these people who are looking for answers, and looking for credibility in those answers finding that their health professional either belittles them, or tells them they "must" do ABC. That it is the only way. And far far too often, that recommended course of action is not evidence based.
We have been so conditioned to believe that it is our fault, our bodies that failed, that we don't even consider the fact that breastfeeding is a two way relationship.
Both the mother and the baby have certain factors that must be present in order to succeed.
Yet our language, our cultural beliefs ignore this.
How often do you hear a woman say "We tried to breastfeed but my baby just couldn't."
We tried to breastfeed, but my baby failed.
You don't. People don't say that.
Yet in a lot of cases it would actually be far more accurate than saying that the mother failed, because the issue isn't a supply issue at all it's a transference issue.
But we don't even have a decent way of testing which side of the dyad has underlying problems, so our society, so used to blaming women for everything, blames the woman. Our women, so conditioned to blame themselves for everything, blame themselves.
When are women on a whole going to wake up to the fact that their bodies didn't let them down, the system let them down?!
In 2014 The Pregnancy Babies and Children's Expo decided to cut one of their scheduled exhibitors/speakers, Dr Bryan Symon from Adelaide. This decision was in response to parent backlash as he holds some extremely controversial views about newborn sleep and breastfeeding.
Later in the year they held a debate with "experts" from both the pro-sleep training camp and the anti-sleep training camp. The outcome of which was that they (PBC Expo) decided that there was no reason to prevent Dr Symon from speaking at the 2015 expo.
I attended his talk in Brisbane, which included some very interesting "facts", such as the claim that Red-Haired women can not breastfeed. A nurse who had never heard of him before and had been happily agreeing with everything he said, ending up standing up and asking how he could possibly spread such dangerous misinformation. This talk also saw Dr Pamela Douglas from The Possums Clinic being escorted out by security, after disagreeing with Dr Symon.
This was my letter to the PBC Expo coordinators in the aftermath of the Expo and the stir Dr Symon's attendance caused online in the lead up.
By the 6 week vaccination date, any sane parent who has caught on to many Doctor's lack of evidence based practicing would be running for the hills when presented with a vaccination consent form that says the only side effects are a temperature and small rash.
If patients can't trust their doctors to give them non-biased, evidence based information, outlining the risks and benefits of ALL possible courses of action equally, whilst taking their personal situation into account, then why are we surprised that vaccination rates are falling fastest amongst well educated parents?
I read this article about induction today, (well actually I read the comments on the article, and got too angry to read the article itself) a mum's birth story.
The Tagline for the heading was "at 42 weeks clearly my body just didn't know how to 'do'labour".
That alone made me want to punch people.
The comments left me with a new understanding for my Ex who regularly used to express his frustration that life is not more like Video games. I seriously wanted to stab people.
In fact I wanted to hit them all in the face, and then tattoo "ask for the evidence" all over their bodies, whilst wearing my Birth Monopoly shirt.
So what made me so angry?
In a hundred and seven comments, not one woman had any idea of evidence based practice, of the cascade of intervention, that pregnancy is not 40 weeks long, or the effects of induction (especially early term induction) on their baby.
But that's not all
There was dozens of comments referring to how their Dr told them they needed to be induced, how their Dr knew best, or 'saved' their baby's life, and in fact there was a whole sub thread of women defending their medically recommended inductions when the original comment on the thread gave them absolutely no reason to need to justify themselves. (It said that inductions suck, so she did't understand why anyone would want an induction purely for being a few days late)
And then there were the comments of women trying to justify an induction for things like being 40weeks in the middle of summer...........
Cause no woman anywhere has ever had to deal with that before. Eye roll.
And finally the incredibly confusing double posted comment about how being exhausted is a risk factor for PND (yes) and so if you are really exhausted at the end of pregnancy an induction will prevent PND (ummm, No).
Yes if you have major back pain and can hardly move that's a reasonable reason for induction. Yes if you have HG and still can't hold down a thing more than Saos you have a case. But in both those scenarios, giving birth is going to solve the underlying issue.
I can guarantee that giving birth is not going to help you be less exhausted!
All you are doing is trading an inability to sleep because you are uncomfortable for an inability to sleep because you are feeding around the clock.
So, yeah. Wanted to stab people.
But after having all these "my body let me down" stories float around in my head for a few hours I had the following thought.
When are women on a whole going to wake up to the fact that their bodies didn't let them down, the system let them down?! (This applies to breastfeeding too)
All this, "don't shame/judge me for having an (insert intervention here), my body didn't work" or "my baby would have died without it" stuff is absolute crap.
we are all so busy focusing on the" mummy wars" and "not judging/shaming" or defending what happened to us, instead of learning about physiological birth, finding our agency and demanding better.
Let me say it again.
Your body did not let you down
Your body is not broken
You did not fail
Your "care providers" are the failures.
The responsibility and the outcome lies with them and their shit system.
Stop putting them on a fucking pedestal for 'saving' your life or your baby with the 'emergency' C section or instrumental delivery they inevitably performed after they mind fucked you into believing that you were broken, and that you were putting your baby and your lives at risk!!!!!!
Listen to this right now.
They created that risk.
They created it. With their fear mongering about going "overdue" based on a due date system that isn't even accurate. With their you "will Have to"s and their "I will allow you to do x but not y"s. With their lack of using evidence based care. With their damn ridiculous and disproven Partogram counting down your 'lack' of progress. With their EFM machines, saline drips, epidurals and pitocin. With their ridiculous policies like not eating and drinking. With the lithotomy position then "needing" episiotomies and forceps to do the job of gravity. With their directed pushing. With the bright lights and the rotating shifts, and the lack of continuity of care.
They created the risk.
I would bet any money, that if you took 1000 Chimps, or Dolphins, or Lions or any mammal you want, and you stuck them in a room full of bright lights and random people (or animals) coming and going, then talked about them not to them, measured their progress invasively, then "tsk tsk-ed" as you wrote it in the chart. All whilst restricting the mothers movement (to a gravity negative position that cuts off the baby's oxygen;) every single one of them would go into stalled labour.
And you would be doing well if 10% managed to give birth without intervention.
Likewise if you took 1000 women and gave them all continuity of care in a midwifery led home-birth or birth centre model, with respectful, evidence based care that takes physiology and psychology into account, allowed every woman to feel strong, valued and capable, and to move and vocalise in whatever way their body told them to, when it told them to, that you would have a good 90% give birth physiologically, and be able to walk out in less than a day like Kate
In fact here are some of them to prove that it's not just celebrities and royals that can make birth look easy. (#Birthjusthappened)
It doesn't have to be this hard!
It won't be super easy for everyone, we all have different bodies and pain thresholds and labour for different amounts of time, but the system makes it harder than it needs to be.
It's never been this hard in the whole history of the world, before the last 2 centuries.
And don't give me, that "but women and babies died more back then" crap.
1: We have significantly better basic hygiene
2: America has maternal and infant mortality rates higher than the freaking third world countries that are the closest comparison we have in terms of the living conditions of our ancestors.
Puerto Rico, Kuwait, South Korea and Serbia all have less babies and mothers die than the good old USA.
(Australia and the UK's rates aren't that crash hot either but we at least are not going backwards!)
So, please, please, stop defending your doctor and your interventions and believing their crap about your body failing you. That is just them (consciously or subconsciously) covering for their failures.
Get educated on what birth should and could be like, and then get angry at the system instead of at all the women (and men) who you think are fighting you. Because they aren't. They are fighting the system. This isn't about you. It's about the system.
Seriously. They are on your side. fighting for you. so that your daughters don't have the same shitty, intervention filled births you had. So that your daughters don't have to fight for their rights mid-labour. So that the home birth vs hospital debate becomes completely defunct. so that there is no "natural birth movement" or "anti-CSection movement" making you feel judged.
So that there is No need for the obstetric violence "movement".
The future we "Natural Birthers" want is the one where our daughters know that they have the power and the agency to make the choice that is best for their circumstances based on the best possible unbiased evidence.
We hope that they will expect and receive a respectful model of care where no one will feel like they are being bullied into a type of birth they don't want.
We want unmedicated, active birth to at least be one of the options they think of when they think of birth, that they actually see it on TV and in other media. For them to know that there is nothing to be feared from birth, and that the horror stories of our current world are simply ancient history.
Sure we hope that with adequate education on the micro biome, and the hormonal/psychological as well as physical benefits of natural birth for both mum and baby, that they will choose natural birth because it is best practice in most situations.
'natural' or 'CSection' we want them to feel empowered, competent, respected and involved.
We want a future where no woman feels like a failure for not getting the birth she wanted, or can be 'made to feel' like a failure by their doctors, their family, their friends, or some random stranger on the internet.
So please start fighting with us, instead of believing that we are fighting you.
I know I said I wanted to slap people. But really, I would rather you just get educated, then I wouldn't feel I had to slap people into recognising the lie that they are living.
All of this applies to the breastfeeding/formula crowd too.
Hi I'm Nicole