I went to the Mama Conference, as I was asked to present a workshop on Compassionate Midwifery. It was SOO amazing! I’m sure this isn’t very admirable, but my humble self was totally awestruck by being with famous people, and by the fact that I was treated as a VIP (three course meal, hotel room, dinner with famous people etc). Having to get up and talk immediately after Michel Odent was simply surreal, and not something I want to repeat in a hurry. The whole conference was, quite simply, a wonderful experience. Here is a summary of some of my favourite talks.
Michel Odent: talked about his belief that medical intervention in childbirth is having serious long term consequences on our future, because it interrupts our natural capacity to birth (our release of oxytocin). My ducks have had their ability to nest and nurture their ducklings bred out of them. How quickly can we “breed” the capacity to birth out of our race? Looking at the evidence, he says it is already happening. And it matters, because it seems to be affecting our mental health in later life. Scary stuff…..
Ina May Gaskin: I had to leave half way through this to catch my plane! Gutted…. She showed us some of her amazing stats. As you know, she only has a 1.7% c-section rate, but she also has an 11.5% meconium staining rate. Quite high! Not, in itself, an indicator for transfer, so why does the NHS have a policy of always transfering? She then spoke about shoulder dystocia, which, a few of my ladies have been “threatened with” by doctors. Guess what her strategy is if shoulder dystocia were suspected? Press the emergency button? NO. Put mum on her back? NO. Pull baby out? NO. She advocates calm, quiet, “deliberate response without panic”. Keep calm!
Denis Walsh: Denis blew out of the water, any support for the common practice in the NHS of intervening when mum’s labour slows or stalls, according to a pre-specified time line. He showed us recent research showing that this isn’t supported by evidence. Natural labours often slow or stall, and that if you DON’T intervene, babies are born anyway! His main point supports what we suggest in hypnobirhting. Tell your midwife “if all else is well, we are happy to wait. please do not intervene.”
Other highlights: I met Amali Lokugamage who wrote “Heart of the Womb”. I have’t read it, but it is now on my list of things to do. This obstetrician ahd a complete change in atttitue when she herself became pregnant. Her intuition became very strong, and she listened to it. She went against medical advice to birth her baby at home, despite a “diagnosis” of gestational diabetes. Can’t wait to read it! I also met Adela Stockton, who has written a number of books, and was also presenting alongside my presentation, so unfortunately, I didn’t get to see it. I have ordered her book though! I also spoke with Ina May’s husband, Stephen, who has been so instrumental in setting up The Farm. He is truly amazing to talk to.
Low points: I possess many books by Michel Odent, and Ina May Gaskin, and one of Denis’ books. But I didn’t bring any of them with me, so I didn’t get any signatures. Hey ho – there’s always next year…..
See photos on the facebook page www.facebook.com/miasbirthsite