The Doula Issue 40 Spring 2021 FINAL - Flipbook - Page 7
Charlotte Tonkin Edun is a doula and
hypnobirthing teacher in Kent. She works
with colleagues Laura Scarlett and Ruth Pay
at The Good Birth Practice offering antenatal,
intrapartum and postnatal support and
services. She is also writing an MA at the
Centre for Women’s Studies at the University
What’s the prevailing message here?
An A4 poster promoting the Oasis Birthing
Centre affixed to the wall next to the resucitaire
at Princess Royal University Hospital Orpington,
A depiction of a vagina (as an unborn penis)
from Andreas Vesalius’s De Humani Corporis
Fabrica, 1543. Image credit : HistoryToday.com
We see it in the defensive response to both HBAC and
maternal request caesarean.
The problem is not what we ask for, it’s that we ask at
all. In demanding women centred care we challenge
everything the institutions of birth are built on (and it’s
important to reflect here on how much more complex this
is for more diverse socio-economic backgrounds, black,
brown, disabled, LGBTQ+ people, or those who speak
English as a second language).
The UK’s most
So far so depressingly consistent. Working in seeming
opposition to this can be deeply frustrating. It’s tempting
to attribute bad faith and to fall into opposing camps – the
Birth Wars. However, it’s important to us and to our work
to recognise the threads of this densely woven fabric.
In my view, understanding how we got here offers the
opportunity to shift the narrative, to move our position
from opposition to improvement. I encourage my clients
to ask medics ‘ok, and how will you help me have a good
birth?’ when it is recommended they change their plans.
This centres their experience and challenges the medic to
think beyond the ‘risk’ of our bodies.
It is not solely our responsibility to write plans, prepare
contingencies and protect ourselves from iatrogenic harm.
So, let’s remember the injustice that bought us here and
keep our focus on improvement over conflict.
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© Doula UK | Spring 2021 | The Doula 7