We often confuse the trauma of childbirth with the trauma of a broken maternity care system. It’s far too common that women describe their births as traumatic and often, it isn’t the pain of childbirth that haunts them. It’s the way they were treated, how they were spoken to and sometimes, how they were ignored.
The medical system trains providers and staff to ask questions that steer people to a destination. They aren’t trained to listen and cultivate relationships through trust and disclosure and far too often, because of this construct, an unnecessary power struggle ensues when pregnant families work to make choices they feel are best for them.
Before the information age, this may have been the best course of action but now families have the best research and knowledge available at their fingertips. It is far past time to rethink how we communicate with each other during care.
Key Take Aways:
- What is coercive language and how to avoid it.
- Dispel the myth that medical guidelines are the end all be all and how you can support clients through collaboration
- How care providers can reduce the risk of traumatic birth through improved communication
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Dawn Thompson is the founder of Improving Birth. In the birth industry since 2003, she has supported hundreds of families during the birth and postpartum period. She witnessed extensive use of non-evidence-based care that was contributing to higher rates of induction, c-sections and other unnecessary interventions, putting mothers and babies at risk. Not one to stand by, she first organized a small rally at a local San Diego hospital in late 2011, which opened the doors of communication with hospital administration. Then came the National Rally to Improve Birth in 2012 with 110 locations in 46 states with over 250 media outlets covering the story. Improving Birth has gone on to become the largest consumer advocacy organization in the U.S. for maternity care. Dawn strives to educate and empower women to take charge of their maternal health decision making and to bring awareness to our maternity care crisis.