FINDING PEACE AND TRANQUILITY IN BIRTH

DELIVERED BY SISTER JEMIMAH

Assalamu alaykum!

On the 3rd of August, it was time for another exciting session of the Boost your Eeman series; this time with Sister Jemimah from Bloom Birthing.

A Doula, Sister Jemimah is also a nursing student, hypnotherapist and womb therapist.

She gave us an insight into what birth was like in the past.

THE HISTORY OF BIRTH

In ancient times, women delivered their babies in their own homes, in the presence of other women. The process at the time involved women being in an upright position. These days, things are quite different.

Medical interventions such as forceps, caesarean sections and epidurals were initially introduced to help deliver babies when the situation really warranted it. Today, these methods are used even when there is no need for them. Research shows that 1 in 5 women has a completely natural birth (without medical intervention) in recent times. However, the use of medical intervention has moved from solely for life-saving purposes to for the convenience of the practitioners.

While pointing out that a lot of negative misconceptions are being spread about childbirth, Sister Jemimah said when the situation called for it, medical intervention should be done with the woman feeling empowered. This means that she should understand what is going on, be aware of her choices and be able to make those choices.

During the journey to delivery; whether during the ante-natal check-ups, during labour or at the post-natal stage; the language used by practitioners is important. Women should be asked permission before things are done to their bodies.

In Sister Jemimah’s words, “No woman with the Rahmah (mercy) that Allah has placed in us would want to harm their child.” Using the fear tactic to get a would-be mother to consent to something she is uncomfortable with is wrong.

Traumatic experiences during delivery sometimes take away or reduce the connection between the mother and her child. This makes babies sometimes unsettled because they feel their mother’s energy. For some women, this makes the post-partum healing, breastfeeding and bonding with the child difficult.

 

THE PHSIOLOGICAL PROCESS OF BIRTH

Sister Jemimah said the normal birth process was in four stages:

  1. Pre-/early labour: This takes place towards the end of the pregnancy and could last for a week or more. Most women may not know that this is happening. Women may experience more bowel movement or diarrhea. They may experience some contractions especially at night. While this may be called false labour medically, we should understand that this is actually part of the natural birthing process.
  2. Active/established labour: In Sister Jemimah’s words, “this is the point where there is no turning back”. The baby has to be born. Every woman is different so the timing of this is different for every woman.
  3. 2nd stage of labour: This when the baby is actually being born. It normally takes place towards the end of labour.
  4. 3rd stage (Birth of the placenta): Without intervention, this process can occur naturally after a period of up to one hour. This is usually shorter however with medical intervention.

Citing the example of how tomato sauce is extracted from a bottle, she said maintaining an upright position aids delivery.

HORMONES PRESENT IN THE BODY DURING DELIVERY

  1. Oxytocin: Also called the love drug. This makes the contractions happen. It reaches its peak right after the baby is born; making mothers bond with their babies. It is also produced during breastfeeding.
  2. Endorphins (the happy hormone): This gives women a peaceful and calm feeling during labour. It acts as a natural but stronger version of morphine which blocks a lot of pain.
  3. Adrenaline: This is responsible for the flight response when we are in a state of fear. In this case, fear is anything that makes a woman feel uncomfortable like transferring from her home to the hospital or being attended to by a medical provider she doesn’t get along with.

When a woman is scared, the labour process slows or stops. Her oxytocin and endorphin levels decrease as she becomes tense. The endorphin levels decrease further and she feels more pain. This is the cycle of fear, tension and pain. This cycle causes a decrease in her oxygen level and the baby thus has less oxygen and goes into distress.

In such cases, labour fails to progress despite the presence of contractions. This is what causes most medical interventions. The doula’s job however is to break this ‘fear, tension and pain’ cycle.

 

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO HAVE AN EMPOWERING BIRTH?

  1. Consent: A woman should agree to whatever is to be done to her body.
  2. Ability to be able to make informed decisions: A woman should know what her options are and decide what she wants.
  3. Having the right support team: Whether it’s her spouse, mother or family member, it is important to have support and set boundaries. The doula and medical team should be supportive and be the right people for the choices the woman makes regarding the delivery process.

 

It is important to listen to a woman during labour because her body communicates to her and she follows her instincts. Birth is a natural event that has become medical because we give birth in hospitals surrounded by medical professionals.

A report showed that having a positive birth is not about the outcomes of the delivery but about the woman receiving the necessary support she needs in the choices she makes regarding and during the delivery.

 

In closing the session, Sister Jemimah said “Birthing a baby is such a spiritual thing for all women and is beautiful. We should not move away from it due to fear put in our hearts.”