Do you feel your wishes are undermined?

It isn’t the first time a pregnant woman is being told after voicing her wishes where and how to birth, that she is not allowed or it is against hospital policy …

For those, who are not informed enough, end up going along with what the care providers are saying, however more and more are doing research , getting informed and finding out, that indeed they are allowed.

It is only very rarely when there would be circumstances, that would mean medical intervention is essential. Generally birthing in a calm peaceful environment is very straight forward and more and more women are realising this, taking the opportunity to birth where they feel safe.

Here is some further information, which may help in making an informed decision:

Unless there are some very particular circumstances that require you to have repeated vaginal examinations, any induction (syntocinon or otherwise), epidural or giving birth on your back, think twice and educate yourself about your options. Going along with these just because it’s policy may not be wise. If you find yourself in any of these situations where it really is, individually for you, a medically necessary course of action, then of course there are ways to support and soften the negative effects.

But before you agree to ANY procedure… remember the maxim at the heart of medical care ‘Nil nocere’ (First do no harm) and always ask:

Is this really necessary?

What is the evidence that my baby will be in genuine trouble if I decline xyz?

What are the full range of alternatives?

What is the evidence for this suggested course of action?

Is this standard policy or an individualised recommendation?

What happens if I do nothing?

What happens if we wait… half an hour… an hour…. a few hours…. another day… a few days…

If your birth team are not supporting your wishes for a physiological birth and you feel they are simply scaring you rather than offering you evidence-based information, even after a talk with a Supervisor of Midwives, it may be time to consider whether that team will help you or hinder you to have a physiological birth.

You would be surprised how many hospitals are ignoring the evidence about what facilitates normal birth and blundering along doing all the things that are known to inhibit it, even in some hospitals declaring themselves ‘activebirth friendly’ and dedicated to promoting ‘normality’- (Like having very bright lights for example, making women lie on a bed for their whole labour, bursting into a room while a woman is labouring, and non-specific generic time limits which set very low thresholds for the dreaded ‘Failure to Progress’ diagnosis)

Don’t be afraid to ask for a second, third and fourth opinion, to ask if something can be done differently, or to ultimately say ‘No’ simply because you have a niggling feeling that something is not right for you. Our instincts are not mumbo-jumbo unreliable nonsense but a powerful source of knowledge based on subtle communication with the baby on many levels. It is safe to trust your feelings, once you have established they are more than a fleeting worry, and with a sensible, vigilant, but not indiscriminately paranoid attitude, there are many ways of knowing, listening and supporting ourselves to have a physiologically optimal birth.

Further reading: A wealth of articles which discuss various aspects of physiological birth and some of the problems with hormonal interference can be found on each of these websites:

Sara Wickham –

Dr. Sarah Buckley –

Dr. Rachel Reed – Michel Odent –

MaMa conference 2016

Meeting Ina May Gaskin at the MaMa conference in April 2016


After reading the book Spiritual Midwifery, it was an honor in meeting Ina May and being able to have a little chat with her.

Her journey of midwifery began when her to be husband Stephen decided to take his teachings elsewhere and in 1970 there sorted 50 buses and gone on a long journey which ended up on the Farm in Middle Tennessee after having birthed several baby’s on the way. This was a time, when across USA hospital births were the norm , apart from a few isolated cases, birthing women would be drugged up, baby’s dragged out and many complications ensued .While at the same time on the farm the C section rates etc were very low and have stayed like this to this day.

Ina May doesn’t work anymore on the Farm, however it does still seem to exist .

Further further reading and information

and here, where there is more information about the present day Farm

Our History

Ina May still travels across various country’s around the world, where she is teaching others about her experiences for change to midwifery and birthing.


Vaginal examinations [ VE’s]

Vaginal examinations – and how to avoid them

Most medical providers are expecting for a vaginal examination to be done as mum arrives at the hospital or even shortly after the midwives would arrive at the home.

Vaginal examinations only tell, what ever is going on at that precise moment, however things can change either way often quite quickly. It can be very uncomfortable , as generally health providers are expecting mum to be lying on her back for a VE to be performed, however while lying on the back, the contractions are generally becoming more painful, as the natural way for the pelvis to lie for baby to decent has been interrupted. Very often just the worry of having a VE can prevent dilation, as it can bring up either past trauma from an event or induce deeper trauma.

There are several ways on avoiding or refusing a VE :

1 – Simple by putting in the birth plan , that an informed decision has been made, that no VE will be performed unless medically required due to an emergency situation [ these are rarer than thought].

2 – Letting the midwives know via the birth plan, that no VE’s to be performed while lying on the back, as other positions eg kneeling on all 4’s maybe another option.

3 – Asking for the midwives and other birth providers to only observe , eg purple line, which can distinctive with some running from the crease of the bum to the anus and going upwards to the top dimple of the bum crack.

4 – Thee is also the so called Mexican hot leg method, which means skilled midwives be able to check, if the leg is warm but only the feet and ankles are cold, a woman’s cervix is generally about 3cm dilated, if she is cold up to a little higher up the leg to mid-calf area, around 5cm, and if the entire leg up to her knees is cold she will be fully dilated and ready to push very soon. The reason for this is that blood flow gradually decreases to the extremities as labour progresses because it is needed higher up in the body.

5 – Simply by watching the birthing woman closely on her breathing and behaviour and how she is moving can give many glues on how far she is likely dilated.

Everyone has the right to refuse VE’s, if that is what they would like to do – often however even the birthing woman becomes curious and wishes to know to be able to make an informed decision on what is best for her at that moment.

There are also the options of self examining or asking for her partner to examining her, which may feel more comfortable for her than a stranger doing it. Doing it herself, can mean her becoming more in tune with her body, however not everyone feels comfortable doing this through various reasons.