Jamie Hocking is the Director of Mindful Pregnancy. Jamie’s mission is to inspire women to embrace the naturally transformative experience of pregnancy, and to provide them with tools and practices to support their emotional wellbeing and personal development during pregnancy, birth, and into motherhood. Jamie is a Hynobirthing Australia™ Certified Practitioner and the creator of Affirmations For Pregnancy audio programs designed for each trimester of pregnancy.
You can find Jamie at www.mindful-pregnancy.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mindfulpregnancy, and on Pinterest at www.pinterest.com/mindfulpregnanc
This post is republished with permission from http://mindful-pregnancy.com/no-do-overs-when-it-comes-to-birthing/
When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I already had a team of family doctors that attended births. I had a great relationship with my doctor. She was aware that I wanted a natural birth and that I would be using hypnobirthing. I filled out a birth plan that the practice provided, stating my preferences for a natural birth. Since my doctor could not guarantee that she would be at the birth I saw the other doctors at the practice every now and again during the pregnancy and went over my birth plan briefly in the short time allotted for my appointment.
When the time came for birthing my doctor was away. Because it was a public holiday, there was only one doctor in the practice on duty. She was the doctor I saw the least and that was on purpose. I knew she was pretty old school, and I had hoped that she wouldn’t be attending the birth. But here she was.
I don’t know whether the experience would have been any different with a different doctor. Even though the area I was going to birth in was called a “Family Birth Center“ it was just a slightly modified hospital setting. The bed had all the contraptions for medical procedures. There was easy access to fetal monitoring devices, IV drips, and other medical equipment. Of course, it was determined right away that they needed to give me fluids and they wanted to monitor my contractions. I think this was in part because they didn’t believe I was in labor or progressing because the hypnobirthing was working so well! The only way it was apparent that I was having a contraction was to look at the screen.
The doctor came in to check me and was shocked to see that it was almost time to birth. I remember being told how to position myself (lying on my back, feet in stirrups). I remember being yelled at to push, and I recall feeling like I wasn’t given any opportunity to trust my own body. I was given an episiotomy, probably as a matter of routine procedure. Then after my baby was born, her cord was cut immediately and she was rushed away due to a low Apgar score. Thankfully, all was well and I was soon allowed to hold my baby skin to skin and put her to my breast. I remember being so thrilled to have my little girl ““ but after the dust settled I felt disappointed that my birth experience didn’t go to plan and left me feeling so disempowered.
I learned a lot from this experience. I knew what to expect the second time around, and I made sure to give myself every opportunity to have the birth experience I wanted. I ended up with a blissful birth that left me feeling empowered. One thing I know for sure is that there are no ‘do-overs’ when it comes to birthing. I’d like to share some tips for taking charge of your birth experience in the hopes that you give yourself the best opportunity to have the birth experience you desire.
1. Do your research
Many of us have been brought up to believe that pregnancy and birth are medical conditions that require medical interventions. As a result, when we become pregnant we rush to the doctor to tell us what to do, and when it’s time to birth we trust the doctor to know what is best for our body and our baby. We are prepared to follow their lead.
In reality, if you are a healthy woman, your body was designed for pregnancy and birth and is amazingly capable.
When you trust your body you give yourself the opportunity to experience the birth process naturally and beautifully.
I am not saying that a hospital birth is wrong. What I am saying is that you don’t need to just go with the “˜default’ option. Yes, a hospital birth with an obstetrician is one option. Some other options in your area may include midwifery care, natural birth centres, home births, and water births.
With any major life decision, you are likely to have explored the options before making a decision. You probably researched different universities before choosing a school, took more than one car out for a test drive before making a purchase, or looked at more than one house before moving in. You probably even weigh up what kind of milk to buy!
You and your baby deserve this kind of consideration. How to birth is an important decision and researching your birthing choices is well worth your time. Visit different birth environments and interview different birth attendants. With research you will become well informed and you will be able to make thoughtful choices when you write your birth plan.
2. Trust your instincts
You may have heard great things about a particular birth environment or birth attendant but when you visit, you don’t feel quite right. It might not be the right person or the right place for your birth. Listen to your instincts. If you don’t feel right about it, there’s probably a reason. Sometimes what seems to be a great person or place at first doesn’t fit as your pregnancy progresses. You may even decide to change your mind about a birth environment or attendant late in the game. It’s better to make the change before birth than to be disappointed after you’ve had your birth.
A friend of mine was happy with her midwifery team at first, but as her pregnancy progressed she realised that they were not on the same page. She trusted her instincts and made a very hard decision to switch to a new team of midwives in her thirtieth week. While it was not the best timing for her, she felt much better about her new team and felt much more confident about her upcoming birth.
3. Have a support person who can speak up for you
You may have spent a lot of time doing your research and writing a well thought out birth plan. But once birthing starts you may not be able to express your wishes. If you have had continuity of care, your provider may know your wishes. However, you need to be prepared for the possibility that your preferred midwife or doctor may be unable to attend your birth.
Having a strong support person who knows your wishes and is willing to speak up on your behalf is essential. This might be your spouse, your mother, or a friend. If this is the case, you need to take the time to discuss your birth plan in detail. But this is just one part of the job. What can be tricky is having the presence of mind to speak up on your behalf during such an intense time. This can be difficult when it is someone who is emotionally attached to you and the baby.
One option you may wish to consider is hiring a doula. A doula is a professional birth support person. There are many services that a doula can provide, including advocating on your behalf to help you achieve a safe, empowering birth experience. Having someone you can trust on your side can provide great comfort and bring you great confidence when you are birthing.
Your birth experience can set the tone for the postnatal period. Having a disempowering birth experience can put you at increased risk of postnatal depression. It is well worth putting your time and effort into making choices that lead to an empowering birth. I hope these tips give you a good starting point for making those choices.