Thursday, August 15, 2013

What is a Good Birth?

I recently read an article interviewing a doctor who had conducted a large study "The Good Birth Project" and then had written a book A Good Birth: Finding the Positive and Profound in Your Birth Experiencewritten by a doctor, Anne Lyerly, MD. In the interview, Dr. Lyerly summarizes 5 characteristics that make. Those characteristics are described as being:

1. Agency: a good birth is one in which we have a hand in shaping, that is informed by the things we value – a birth in which we feel involved and present.

2. Personal security: a good birth is one in which we feel safe and secure, in trustworthy hands.

3. Connectedness: the degree to which we feel meaningfully connected to our loved ones, our care providers, and of course our baby.

4. Respect: a good birth is one in which we feel others respect us, our newborn, and more broadly birth as a meaningful event in our lives.

5. Knowledge: a good birth is one in which we have enough information before and during the event that we have a sense of what is happening and why; but it also depends on the wisdom we garner by virtue of going through it.

Dr. Lyerly goes on to say that

these things can all be cultivated no matter where you give birth (home, birth center, or hospital) and no matter how (vaginally or by cesarean).

What Dr. Lyerly had to say about what makes for a good birth truly resonated with me - and I feel that many women who choose cesareans are wanting "Good Births", births that meet their individual needs for agency, personal security, connectedness, respect, and knowledge. I know that my planned cesarean with my son was truly "A Good Birth" - and I can conclude that it met all of Dr. Lyerly's criterion for a good birth.

Applying the same lens to my daughter's birth, only highlights the unnecessary challenges that many cesarean by choice moms face - and in my own case highlights how big of a chasm there is between the "Good Birth" I sought and the one I was ultimately left to reconcile.

If the interview is anything to go by - I have a new book on my reading list.

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