‘I want to be alone’ – why privacy in birth is so important

Disclaimer – I have no medical training whatsoever. I am, what’s known in certain circles as, a ‘birth geek’: basically a lay person who has done so much research into the subject of birth that in some areas she may actually be better informed than select medical professionals.  I would always recommend that you do your own research and make your own decisions based on this.


privacyinbirthProbably my favourite music radio station is my local – JackFM. It plays a nice mix of music, no repeats, has sarky jingles that make me smile and the presenters seem to be a sparky bunch who genuinely have fun together.

Part of the on-air banter spilled onto my Twitter feed today where Trev suggested his pregnant co-presenter, Caroline, give birth in a live broadcast. Despite my inner voice of logic and reason shouting at me that it was merely banter and to ignore, my inner birth geek galloped over to her soap-box, hopped up and told Trev off for treating Caroline like a lab rat, posting a link on privacy in birth.

This was the link I posted.

Basically you need the same conditions to give birth as you do to orgasm: peace, privacy, the chance to focus on your body and what it needs.  Plus privacy in birth is a Human Right! I know Trev was just being funny, but the cultural norm of giving birth in hospital, surrounded by strangers, bright lights and medical equipment is pretty much the furthest we can get away from the ideal conditions for birthing, hence the rise in intervention and traumatic births.

These are not only stressful in the immediate situation, but lead to all sorts of knock on effects like difficulty breastfeeding, PTSD, difficulty bonding and post-natal depression for mothers and a whole slew of medical difficulties for babies ranging from forceps injuries to not receiving cord blood, from not being populated with the microbiome they should have received from their mother, to major medical distress. We don’t even know about the long-term effects of using drugs like syntocinon, which mimics the love-hormone oxytocin, though some research suggests it may promote the development of depression in later life by messing with a baby’s brain chemistry.

Yes, there are undoubtedly some cases where hospitalisation, observation and medical intervention are definitely the best option, but to suggest that birth is a form of entertainment and sod what’s best for the mother? That’s a worrying extension of the kind of thinking that has produced ‘One born every minute’ – a programme which seems to go out of its way to terrify women by portraying the most dramatic, interventionist births it can find.

In one of my birth prep sessions with a hypnotherapist it was suggested that we only have our partner present if we were comfortable pooing in front of him.  Perhaps I will propose that Trev live broadcast himself having a crap and then Caroline can decide if she wants  to revisit the topic of a live birth. Somehow I think not…

For more on this topic I have created a list of useful links. If you’re pregnant, or supporting a woman who is, I recommend reading these.

Hormones in labour & birth – How your body helps you – Sarah Buckley

Giving birth in a stable might be a better option than a labour ward – Milli Hill

Failure to Progress – A satirical parallel of giving birth under observation

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