Addressing Complications of Childbirth in the Prenatal Setting


  • Gayle Peterson M.S.S.W.

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    • Gayle Peterson is a licensed clinical social worker and childbirth educator in priuate practice in Berkeley, California, with the Holistic Psychotherapy and Medical Group. She is the author of Birthing Normally: A Personal Growth Approach to Childbirth. She has written numerous papers on the psychophysiological aspects of pregnancy and birth and leads workshops on Holistic Prenatal Care and Risk Screening, as well as teaching advanced seminars in techniques of holistic prenatal care, including visualization and prenatal kinesiology. She is a co-author of two forthcoming books: Holistic Prenatal and Holistic Psychotherapy. She is the mother of two children, Sorrel and Yarrow.


The discussion of obstetrical complications with the pregnant woman in the prenatal setting is discussed with reference to current knowledge of psycholinguistics and indirect hypnosis. The author suggests that pregnant women are often given didactic information about obstetrical complications in such a manner that they are frightened and not reassured, and that, behind the request for information about complications of birth is a request for emotional support and help in dealing with the normal fears of pregnancy that are sometimes not addressed in the prenatal care setting. The author proposes that discussions of birth complications have the effect of improving the woman's ability to cope by helping her to develop her inner resources for coping with the unknown potential actualities of birth. Discussion of birth complications should decrease rather than increase stress and fear. Attention to principles of psycholinguistics can help the nurse-midwife actualize her intentions to be helpful in this important task of discussing complications.