Here’s a little excerpt from an article by Dr. Michel Odent, noted French obstetrician. “According to traditional wisdom in rural France, a baby in the womb should be compared to fruit on the tree. Not all the fruit on the same tree is ripe at the same time. A fruit that has been picked before it is ripe will never be fit to eat and will quickly go bad. It is the same with a baby. In other words, we must accept that some babies need a much longer time than others before they are ready to be born. If you have some apple trees in your garden, you will listen to your common sense and choose an individualized and selective approach: you will not pick all the apples on the same day.” A recent client was concerned that she would be induced, as she had been in her first pregnancy. I had the confidence to tell her that her physician would not induce labour, even if she reached 42 weeks, as long as she and the baby were well. I could say that with confidence because I have been working closely with this particular group of family doctors for almost 20 years. This gave her peace, and she was able to relax. Soon after, she went into labour on her own, well after the typical “10 day limit” imposed in most North American hospitals. All was well. She could hardly believe the wonderful difference from her previous, induced, labour.
I live in a bubble, working as I do with midwives and family doctors who respect the current research, dare to challenge hospital protocols, and fully respect their clients’ rights. I am fortunate to work in collaboration with caregivers who dare to wait, who only induce women if it is truly medically indicated (even if it causes a fuss with other staff!) In reality, this means I rarely see a woman face induction.
I am glad that I only work with caregivers who follow the best care practices. We work in concert with each woman and her body. Labours start on their own, women dance and move freely, women are continuously supported, women do not face regular interventions, women give birth standing, kneeling, or wherever they choose, and the women reach to pull the babies to their breasts.
In birth, we are not the keepers of the power, each woman’s body is. Yes, we have to do our homework and ensure that everything we do is supported by the best evidence. But, after a while, the 21st century knowledge is only a backdrop to the ancient truth of birth.
So, if a woman’s body is the tree, then the apple will fall, as it should, whenever it is ready, and will rest on soft safe ground. And the orchard keepers will be sitting, as they should, with their hands beneath them, in the shade of the tree. – Jacquie Munro, Vancouver Doula