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I love being a childbirth professional and I love engaging in conversations via social media about big issues. I get very fired up about all kinds of things like lack of informed consent, coercion, non-evidence-based practices, and the list keeps going. I think it is important to get people angry about some of the things that are often so blindly accepted as “that’s just the way it is” or “because they said so” things like VBAC bans and episiotomy. That is an extremely important mission and definitely part of my own advocacy strategy at multiple levels from local to national. My issue is this: if we focus all our energy on outrage, we as childbirth professionals are truly only looking at the negative side of where things are currently and are going to seriously turn off people with our messaging.

From psychology we know that anger is an emotion that people often resort to in order to protect themselves; it pushes us to fight. However useful that fight is, by focusing in on the anger all the time, we are missing a serious opportunity to teach people to ask questions critically and diplomatically. We are missing the chance to work together with the people who are trying to push for change. It is all fine and good to be critical, but unless you back up the criticism with solutions, then you are all bluster and no boom. I promise I am not pointing fingers at anyone in particular here by the way, as I am very guilty of getting riled up especially within the confines of a childbirth professional circle that feels like a very safe place to vent my frustrations and anger. But we also know from psychology, that positive rewards are more motivating than punitive consequences for persuading behavior change.

I have spoken with childbirth professionals who are trying to make change from the inside, and sincerely appreciate their perspectives about affecting organizational change. I have spoken with some who worry that the rhetoric being used is helping foster a more us against them mentality than they are comfortable with for multiple reasons. Childbirth professionals need to work together for so many reasons and continuing to talk about the bad guys over there is not the whole picture. Yes, it is fine to be angry, and yes, some days I completely sympathize with the idea of just burning the entire system to the ground, but is that what childbirth professionals really want to do?

What if instead of focusing our discussion as childbirth professionals on what we don’t like about the conversation, we focused our efforts on amplifying the change makers who are talking about the direction that we want things to go?

What if instead of vilifying all OBs because of the perpetuation of old ways and business as usual, we talked about who is making waves and pushing for change in the direction that we want to see things go?

What if instead of appealing to anger, we elevate the conversation to be solutions-based and focused?

I am not in any way suggesting we let go of that rage. We need that rage, but we also need the other side of it to be louder! Robin and I want to upgrade the conversation and refocus the energy of childbirth professionals on working together toward a better future and more options for birthing families.

Are you a birth geek interested in being more solutions-focused? What do you see as the biggest obstacle for childbirth professionals in your community? Which problems are you looking for the solutions for right now? Join the conversation in our free Facebook group!

Further reading:

The Influential Mind: What the Brain Reveals About Our Power to Change Others

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

and the author’s website for more information about inspired leadership:

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