by Janet Rourke
I could not agree more with the words of January Harshe: “I do not care what kind of birth you have…a home birth, scheduled caesarean, epidural hospital birth, or if you birth alone in the woods next to baby deer. I care that you had options, that you were supported in your choices and that you were respected”.
Birth is such a special time, and the people that you have caring for you can make such a difference to your experience. When choosing your ‘birth team’ take time to find the ‘right fit’ for you, your partner and your baby.
In Australia we are lucky to have a range of choices with high quality antenatal care, but many women are not aware of the range of choices available. It is not uncommon for women to elect a referral to an Obstetrician as soon as they find out they are pregnant, believing this will provide them with the highest quality of care.
Research shows that for a mum, being able to build a relationship with a constant caregiver who is able to be there for you throughout the pregnancy, birth and early postnatal period, taking the time to get to know you and your preferences has been found to provide the best birth outcomes.
Remember each birthing couple is different and has different needs. Each area has different resources available as well which can affect the choices you can make. I encourage you to take your time and explore your birthing options to make sure you get the best fit for you, your partner and your baby.
With this in mind I have put together some questions that can help you and your partner choose the caregiver that is right for you:
What sort of birth do you want? Think about what the birth will be like not only for you, but for your baby.
What birth options do you have in your local area? Are you able/willing to travel to other areas to increase your options? Options may include: home birth/hospital birth (public or private)/birth centres. Care can be provided by: midwife led clinics/hospital antenatal clinics/private midwife/ private obstetrician/GP, supported by: doula’s/hypnobirthing/antenatal education programs.
What is their approach to pregnancy/birth care? Do they look at and manage pregnancy/birthing as a normal physiological process or is it about managing pregnancy as a ‘risky’ medical condition?
How willing are they to try and accommodate your needs/preferences and negotiate with you? Are they willing to engage in discussions about planned interventions using the BRAIN (Benefits/Risks/Alternatives/Instinctive maternal drives and doing nothing option?)
These are just a few things to consider, but having these discussions with your care giver will help you ensure that the person you are choosing to support you in one of the most important events of your life, will be able to treat your birth with the respect and care that it deserves.
Knowing that you have someone you can trust, to listen to you and support your informed choices can significantly reduce any anxiety during your pregnancy and birth allowing the body to do what it is designed to do safely and joyfully.
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