Why do we do as we are told, even if it seems ridiculous, if we perceive them to have authority?
Dr Chris and Dr Xand set up an experiment (probably based on the Milgram Experiment).
After seeing this segment whilst my children watched the Operation Ouch program, I was prompted to look into this phenomenon when it comes to childbirth.
I knew, anecdotally, from my experiences as a doula and from hearing the stories of other mothers and their partners, that many people felt a loss of power when they enter a hospital. Was this obligation? or intimidation? or cultural expectation? or was it a desire to be relieved of a responsibility that felt too great?
And more importantly – what can be done to change this narrative?
How can we ensure that women and their partners feel powerful when entering a hospital to birth?
Rhea Dempsey refers to this as the ‘trance of acquiescence’. It is a state of being where we will hand over our power (and the responsibility) to the person who seems most in control – the one with the ‘authority’. In this state we will agree to things that afterwards, when the trance is lifted, we question ourselves. Then try to find justification.
I feel confident that a Birth Map is the key to answering this. The birth map aids not just the birthing woman, but her partner also. This power comes from the advanced decision making that provides the big picture.
Informed: means you understand your choices and how one intervention might link to another. It means you know when an intervention is warranted and when it is reasonable to continue without intervention. It means understanding that ‘consent’ is flawed and being prepared to provide your informed decisions when required.
Supported: means that you have developed a team around you. Your partner is prepared, and can advocate for you if needed and can communicate on your behalf using your map. It means enlisting a doula, particularly in the absence of continuity of carer.
Confident: With solid preparation, advanced decisions and support, your confidence rises. No longer uncertain, reliant on authority – you become the authority. You know you best, and the medical staff become part of your team. If you are confident and self assured, the medical carer will respond accordingly. If you are uncertain, they will take responsibility – they will take control – because that is what they are trained to do.