At the end of one of my KGHypnobirthing classes, a mum came up to me and said: “I can see that you’re a feminist.” I was slightly surprised as I had never thought of myself in that way, but it was obviously meant as a compliment so I looked suitably pleased and thanked her.
On reflection, I came to the conclusion that it depends on your definition of feminism. The KGHypnobirthing course certainly empowers women. It gives both partners the knowledge to understand the process of birth, what can facilitate it and what can inhibit it.
We have time to talk about what your choices are. For example, I often hear women say: “My hospital induces at 41.5 weeks.” They have no idea that the guidelines say that induction of labour can be offered and that women can decline. If they decline, they have the choice of whether to accept more frequent monitoring to make sure mother and baby are healthy. It is sad that many women are so badly informed that they are actually asking for inductions.
Women come to the course with the two words, “What if…” on their lips, and the what if’s they are concerned about are the dramatic events they see on television. When we talk about the reality of how the system works, they had absolutely no idea of how it works and how best to navigate through it. For example, hardly any woman knows that, in the UK after 41.5 weeks she is not allowed to give birth in the midwife-led unit or birth centre. She should be told this when she is making her choice about where to give birth so that she can make an informed choice. She does still have a choice, of course. She can either go to the obstetric unit or delivery suite which much increases the likelihood of medical interventions or she can stay at home and be attended by two homebirth midwives. There is always a choice.
Women think they are coming to learn techniques to help them have a more comfortable birth and about how to use them when they give birth. Of course, that is included. But to my way of thinking, it is even more important that you learn about why the system we teach works so well and the logic and evidence behind it. Even more important, and I think this is unique to KGHypnobirthing, you need to know how to navigate the system in which you find yourself.
A woman is the expert on how to give birth. She may look to others for information and support as appropriate, and to her partner to protect her from negative intrusions, but ultimately she knows what to do.