No, I do not believe that "all women" behave in any one manner. Nor did I say such. I said there is a tendency. I apologize if what I said was construed as a "blanket statement", as it was not intended as such.
Whether or not it is true that women laboring and birthing attended are more likely to seek situational awareness from their attendants is not really something that can be proven like some scientific fact. What I said was based upon my own observations and upon the testimony of women who have done it both ways. Every one of the women with whom I've spoken about unassisted birth told me that they were less aware of their own bodies, their stage of labor, their ability to make decisions, even whether or not they had permission to change positions, when a midwife was attending than when they birthed unassisted. However, it is obvious that I have not discussed this issue with every woman who has ever given birth.
My comments relate directly to the sentiment expressed by the OP, that what occurred during this birth that she is describing made her think about women giving birth unassisted. Since she is opening the topic for discussion, I would just like to find out what her concerns are. Why did this birth make her "think" this way? I could be completely misconstruing her meaning, which appears from what little she said to mean that she is fearful for women who choose to birth unattended who might have these complications and be harmed or killed by their lack of a midwife. If that is NOT what she meant, I hope she will clarify.
I believe that women, on the whole, are completely equipped to birth. In no way would I attempt to demean women who birth in any way they choose, with any attendants they choose, in any environment they choose. Making an observation about how women think and act in labor is not demeaning to women. I think few would disagree that a woman birthing in a hospital being attended by an OB is under different mental pressures, and that her behavior might easily be affected, by that enviroment. There is something about having an "expert" in the room giving suggestions (or orders) that causes a person to assume a more passive or even submissive role. I'm not placing a value judgment on it, I'm just saying that it does happen.
No doubt, many midwives can testify of mothers they've attended that were highly intuitive and so tuned-in to their bodies that the mothers tell the midwvives that something is amiss. But in spite of that, there is really no way to know if they are having the same level of awareness or are drawing as deeply from their own buried strength as they would if they believed there was no one to help but themselves. It is something about which midwives ought to be aware and hopefully they will be nuturing that ability that perhaps the mothers don't even know they have.
It is easy for midwives to comment about things they have seen tens or hundreds or thousands of times, which is, women giving birth while the midwives watch. But they are somewhat less qualified to comment on what happens when they aren't there, or the exact ways in which a woman thinks and behaves differently when the midwives aren't there. Unless, of course, the women tell the midwives. My opinion is that it is doubtful that a woman who gave birth unatteded, whether planned or unplanned, would say, "Oh, I didn't feel any differently about it than when I birthed with the midwives." More likely is that you hear comments like, "I really had to depend on myself," or "I just KNEW I needed to be kneeling," or "I just knew I needed to push, even though no one told me." They say things about their inner knowledge and awareness that they normally don't say. Whereas a woman having her first home birth, or having a VBAC tends to talk about what she DID, not what she KNEW.
Midwives should take care not to get on the defensive if someone suggests that their presence at a birth changes something in the woman. Of course it changes something. I wouldn't attempt to repeat everything ever said by Dr. Michel Odent, but we've probably all heard that the number one need of a laboring woman is privacy. Anything that stimulates the neocortex, including speaking, can cause her to make adrenelin, interfering with oxytocin. There are plenty of birth videos on youtube where the midwives can't seem to stop talking. They are influencing the woman, whether or not they intend that outcome. Instead of defending themselves, midwives need to be asking, "How can I practice my art in a way that interferes the least?"
Why would midwives spend time worrying about women who are not even their clients? Perhaps they should be preparing all of their clients to be ready to birth unassisted if necessary? After all, any birth has the potential to be unassisted. Every woman should realize that she could do it without a midwife if she had to. There is no need for midwives to adopt the notion that no birth should ever happen without her or that dire consequenses are in store for those moms and babies that she doesn't attend. And that is the sentiment being subtly conveyed by the OP.
Terri, owner of Generations - Services for Growing Families. Offering doula services, child birth education, fertility counseling, breastfeeding support, lending library, and a helping hand home birth services.