This wonderful image by Brenda Baar did the rounds today on social media. I saw it a while ago when I googled Maslow's theory to see if I could find anything interesting for an NCT exam and I came across this beauty.
So many women forget about themselves in birth. It is a passage for you and baby together, not alone as separate entities. So why do so many of us say it's just about the baby being okay but no mention of yourself? Even sometimes saying you don't matter...
Of course a healthy baby matters. There is no mother who doesn't believe this but why are you not included too? YOU MATTER! You have needs too. Imagine a birth where you fulfil your hierarchy of needs? During my antenatal classes I always talk about feeling protected, nurtured and heard. To not be an outsider looking in on what is happening but to be present, completely involved and surrounded by trust. I've heard so many stories of what should have been a traumatic birth by textbook standards but the woman walked away having a positive birth because of all these factors being ticked. How amazing is that?
Research has shown that unrealistic expectations for labour isn't usually the common force behind PTSD after birth, which some believe is, but is linked to how you are treated:
"...one study looked at this question directly and found that a difference between expectations and experience in the level of pain, length of labour, interventions and level of control was not associated with PTSD symptoms. However, a difference between expected support from health professionals and the level of care experienced was predictive of PTSD symptoms (Ballard, Stanley et al. 1995; Ford and Ayers unpublished). It therefore seems that women are not necessarily traumatised by the events of birth not happening as they expected, but are affected when the care they receive does not match their expectations." (City University of London, 2012)
So, looking after the woman has a huge purpose. Not only because it's reasonable but because it's logical. The far reaching impact goes beyond birth if your needs are not met. All the needs are not always met and you can have a few or all, it can interchange. But meeting the majority would be incredible, no matter what birth, just by changing the way women are looked after. Language is so key here and a lot of positive changes are being made but we have a long way to go. But they are changing...
Alive. Health. Trust. Autonomy. Heard.
A hierarchy of needs that truly matters.