Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Home truths on childbirth for Giselle

Gisele Bundchen

The Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen promotes natural (i.e drug free) childbirth.

On her blog (that must-have for any super-celeb) she endorses the views of a midwife who argues for a woman's right to give birth in her own home surrounded by doulas, midwives and obstetrics nurses.

Good for her. Like Ms Bundchen who has one child, I have had some experience of childbirth (three times).

My experience pre-dated the doula. I gave birth in a hospital surrounded by highly trained staff and lots of soothing drugs. I can't remember that I was all that heavily medicated but I do recall the gas and air.

Having read a book about natural childbirth, I'd originally pooh-poohed the notion of druggy old gas and air. A few contractions in, I'd clasped the mask so tightly to my face the mark was left for days afterwards. (If you are pregnant and reading this, it wasn't down to pain. It was fear.)

Which is best then, drug-free or full medication? Each to her own, I'd say. Supermodels, of course, have the luxury of being able to avail of the very best of medical attention in their own homes.

I'm not sure that our NHS service could run to the expense of a doula-inclusive team for every patient in her own bedroom. Or even that this would be the best for every patient.

Gisele says: "I had the opportunity to experience the natural process of birth and it was one of the most life changing experiences for me and very, very special." But that also holds for most women - even for those who opt for a bit of pain relief in the hospital bed.

It's not the process that makes it very, very special. It's the outcome.

Those of us who have also had some experience of how things can go wrong and how very important it is to have full medical back-up on hand (something not usually available at home) will vouch for that.

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