Have you ever heard anyone talk about the need for privacy during birth?

I’ve just been watching a show on t.v. where the following conversation was playing out between a mother and her daughter;

Daughter; Mum, mum the chicken is about to lay an egg.

Mum; Let’s go look

Daughter; No, no – it needs privacy

How is it that an 11 year old understands that an animal requires privacy for birthing and yet we often forget (or neglect) this for birthing women?

Women are ‘hard-wired to birth – that’s right we are designed to have babies. But part of this hard-wiring is that we also have the need to feel, as Dr Sarah Buckley puts it, “private, safe and unobserved”.

When mammals birth they seek out seclusion – a space away from prying eyes. When an animal feels threatened during birth it releases the stressor hormone catecholamine. The release of which slows down or even stops labour so that the birthing animal can get away from the threat and find a safe space to birth.

As birthing women, we are no different. When a birthing woman is in early labour, any threat or perceived threat can cause us to release the same stressor hormones which have the potential to slow labour right down or even stall it. 

Women often birth in hospitals as we believe it is ‘safer’ to do so – we have access to the best medical care if something goes wrong. Whilst we believe this in our heads, our body often understands something quite different. Once we are in hospital, the different sounds, the beeping of machines, the questions, the monitoring, the bright lights, the ‘strangers’ in the birthing suite and the feeling of being observed can all contribute to us feeling worried, anxious or ‘threatened’. 

So what can we do to cultivate a sense of privacy and security in the birthing environment – particularly in a hospital setting.

Before even getting to the hospital or birth centre,  discuss your desire for privacy and as little disturbance as possible with your caregivers. Once at the hospital even the seemingly smallest thing can make a difference;

  • Placing a ‘privacy please’ (or similar) sign on the door. I find a sign that says ‘Orgasm in process’ works particularly well!
  • Having as few people as possible in the birthing room
  • Ensure your birth partner is comfortable acting as your advocate (including answering any questions that do not have to be answered directly by you)
  • Have your birth partner protect your birth space – it’s ok to ask for conversations to be held outside, to ensure that conversation is kept low and keep unnecessary people out
  • If possible, using a pool/bath/ shower – helps create a sense of privacy and safety by creating a physical barrier as well as helping with pain relief

Privacy doesn’t mean being left alone

Privacy and being left alone don’t mean the same thing! Unless, of course, this is what you want

The right caregivers will understand the need for privacy and a lack of interruption balanced with support – enabling you to feel protected and safe during your labour and birth.

Exactly what you need to get the hormones of labour and birth flowing as they are meant to do.

So maybe it is time to listen to that (very wise) 11 year old about the need for privacy!

To find out more about how to create a calm, private birth environment and allow the hormones of birth to work as they are designed to do, join my Hypnobirthing Australia™ classes.

Kate Vivian is a self-professed pregnancy and birth geek who is finally learning to embrace the chaos of having 3 kids. It was the birth and ‘bringing baby home’ experience of her first baby, and the overwhelming guilt that went with it, that led her to start Bright Mums – and create a world where Mums matter.

 A Certified Hypnobirthing Australia Practitioner, childbirth educator and postpartum doula, Kate works with Mums-to-be not only supporting them through pregnancy, and birth but also teaching them to honour themselves at a time when the world is telling them their baby is the most important thing.

With almost 2 decades in adult education, Kate has the ability to create a safe space, a non-judgey space. A place where Mums can relax and feel supported regardless of what their journey looks like. 

A keen traveller in a former (pre-kids) life, Kate dreams of the day her kids are big enough to take skiing and they can completely show her up while she is busy falling down mountains.

Find out more about Kate