So you’re pregnant – CONGRATULATIONS – BUT, you find you are bombarded with questions and expected to make decisions about booking caregivers, classes, where to have baby and a whole lot more.
It is overwhelming and comes with a whole new language and very quickly you are caught up in ‘the system’ and on the treadmill of that systems ‘agenda’ – all this before you have had any time to think about, or research, what you want for you and your baby. These first few weeks of pregnancy are often associated with tiredness and it is so easy to just go along with whatever is being suggested.
It comes from every angle and everyone, it seems, considers themselves to be an expert, even if they have just one baby. Family has a strong influence, your Mum, sisters, Grandmother, and it is often presented as ‘this is what we do in our family’, e.g. go to a particular doctor/hospital, or worse ‘I had babies this way and so you will be the same’! – WRONG!
Friends give advice, especially those who have recently had a baby. Work colleagues, among them many men voice their advice. Neighbours give advice. G.P.’s give advice as well as the massage therapist, beautician, hairdresser, chiropractor, acupuncturist or any other therapist you may be seeing.
The problem is, it is mostly not advice but STRONGLY WORDED OPINION that is being given. No wonder women are confused, tired and feel like it’s all too hard.
These choices are the most important decisions you will ever make, and each decision is being made on behalf of your unborn baby, and each decision has a direct impact on your pregnancy, labour, birth and your baby. It is important to ‘shop around’ and make the right choices for you and baby. More research is put into the purchase of a house, car or fridge than into choices for birthing.
THE 4 IMPORTANT CHOICES
1. Choose a caregiver – the name given to the person who will ‘care’ for your pregnancy. Your choices are:
• Midwife – most major public hospitals offer a ‘continuity model of care’. In an ideal system this is where you will receive pregnancy care from the same midwife or small team of midwives, who offer pregnancy care, labour and birthing care and post-natal (after baby) care.
• Independent midwife – (homebirth midwife), who also work with a support midwife or part of a small team.
• Some public hospitals have midwives clinic care, where a pregnant woman is seen by the same midwife for her pregnancy care, but will birth in a Delivery Suite where she will be looked after by a different team of midwives.
• Private Obstetrician – a doctor specialising in medicalised birthing
• G.P. – a general practitioner doctor who offers a ‘shared care’ arrangement with the hospital.
2. Choose a place to birth – home or hospital. Your choices are:
• Private hospital – offer only one choice of care, i.e. private obstetrician
• Public hospital – offer different models of care, i.e. private obstetrician, doctor’s clinic, midwives clinic, continuity midwifery model (often referred to as MGP – midwifery group practice), birth centre (midwife led care)
• Homebirth – offer continuity of care with a supportive homebirth midwife
3. Choose a prenatal class – hospital based or independent childbirth educator. Also referred to as antenatal classes, childbirth preparation classes, parenting classes and various other descriptions.
• Hospital based classes often focus on pain management and how to follow the hospital rules and regulations
• Independent childbirth education – generally many options available, with unbiased information and education based on you and your baby and what you want. These prenatal classes allow you to explore options and empower you to be in charge of your pregnancy, labour, birthing and baby.
4. Choose a doula – ESSENTIAL! Meet at least 2 doulas, as early in your pregnancy as possible so you can get to know each other. The RIGHT doula will have a mountain of resources and have the skills to guide you in how to navigate ‘the system’.
TAKE TIME TO DO THIS SHOPPING AROUND and you will be rewarded with an empowering experience and a baby/child who grows up knowing you are always his advocate and protector. It starts with the choices you make in pregnancy.
For detailed information on what questions to ask and what answers you should be getting please refer to