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Interview 59

Age at interview: 33
Brief Outline: Healthy pregnancy after early miscarriage. Generally happy with care during pregnancy and birth. Some concerns about pressure to conform to ideal of 'normal' birth. More of this interview can be seen on the DIPEX antenatal screening site as Interview 28.
Background: Children' 1, aged 8 months at time of interview. Occupations' Mother- lecturer, Father- lecturer. Marital status' married. Ethnic background' White Australian.

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Her midwife had strong views on how women should give birth, which might make women feel guilty...

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Her midwife had strong views on how women should give birth, which might make women feel guilty...

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I was incredibly impressed right the way through with the care that I received, and right from I mean the GP - I was also referred to a consultant up at the hospital because of the urinary tract infections, and I was also very impressed with her. The only bit I would be probably slightly negative about, and only very slightly negative, was the midwife who I saw who got obsessed with optimal fetal positioning, and who kept sort of telling me that I had to be doing these exercises which basically was being on all fours as much as possible, so the baby would be in an optimum fetal position for birth. And got to the point where - and I, you know, I was trying to be as good and conscientious as possible - but what I could also realise was that babies would just move around and flip around all the time. And I kind of said this to her, and she finally sort of said to me, 'Oh, well, if you don't do this more than likely the baby will be in the wrong position, and you will either have to have an instrumental delivery or a caesarean section.' 

And so really what she was saying' 'And it will be your fault.' And at that point I got really quite angry and upset. Because I thought 1) if one looks at the evidence (and I went to talk to my GP about this), there is no evidence that actually doing these exercises makes any difference. But 2) there was a kind of value judgement wrapped up in there about how you should be giving birth. And because of my experience all I was thinking is, if my brother's problems [he was born with severe learning disabilities] were due to a problem with delivery, you know, all I was thinking is, 'I want a safe delivery. I don't care how I do it, I just want it to be safe.' 

And this notion that there were kind of better forms of labour than others really kind of angered me. And, and what was interesting was when I finally sort of said to her that I felt this, that there were these kind of issues and that she was making women feel guilty, and the midwife just looked at me and said, 'I've never thought about that.' And I found that shocking, because I think there is this image that midwives are meant to be incredibly understanding and, you know, they're meant to be in touch with women and I didn't necessarily find that. You know, in many ways I found that she was dictating to me far more than the medical profession. Now in actual fact I had a pretty much natural labour which in the end I had to have an inst-, I had a ventouse. But I can tell you I was so relieved after 36 hours of labour for that to happen. But I found that, that was more, I think I found kind of interesting as a kind of dynamic.

What was the GP's reaction? I mean, did she say she'd speak to the midwife?

Well, she said, 'Well, you know, ask the midwife for her evidence on which it's based.' And she asked, I'd also, the midwife had given me a sheet of the type of things I should be doing , and so I gave a copy of that to the GP. And I kind of felt it was unfair to ask the midwife about, 'Show me all the research studies' because I just thought midwives don't do that. And that was why I decided to take this kind of other strategy of saying, 'Well, I'm not going to get into an argument about evidence. I want to get into a discussion about how you're making women feel,' because I thought that's something that she would be more receptive to. And as I said I was quite shocked when she came back with this sort of' 'I've never thought of that.'

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