Every birth experience is different. One size does not fit all and no two women are the same. Therefore understanding that pregnancy, labour and birth can be very different, it is really important to know what ‘could’ happen; what choices there are available to you and know that you can decline intervention, if you feel that it is not right for you and your baby.
But before we jump into what choices might be available to you for pregnancy labour and birth, let’s take a look at a very simple example, outside of pregnancy, where understanding our options, being aware of the differences and seeking certain functionality, enables us to select the product that feels right for us.
I am talking about buying a new mobile phone (or other device). Most people will usually look up various models and decide what model offers the functionality they desire. They may even look up online comparisons and even ask friends for recommendations. Only once they have gathered enough information to satisfy them, will they make a decision on which one to buy.
So why is it that so many couples go into labour and birth not fully understanding the processes, their choices and their rights? I believe that in many cases expectant mums put their trust in their care providers to take them through this part of their journey; believing that they have their best interests at heart. Ultimately they do. But understanding that our caregivers are constrained by hospital protocols, bureaucracy, red tape and senior management, does not make their roles easy. They are evaluated by tick boxes and paperwork, and their time spent ‘being with the mother’ is constrained.
Going in blind to what your options are could leave you open to helplessly being carried along by the system and potentially missing out on the birth that you had hoped for.
Quite often I hear, ‘Oh, I had to be induced’ or ‘I didn’t know I had a choice’ or ‘I just did what they told me’. When I dig a little deeper, I find out that they weren’t aware (at the time) that there were alternatives. They weren’t presented with the real picture of what their options were.
Induction for ‘post-dates’ in a mother that is classified ‘low-risk’
In the UK, it is very common for women to be booked in for an induction between 41 and 42 weeks gestation. It can often be offered to the mum by the caregiver in the following way: ‘If baby hasn’t made an appearance by next Thursday we will book you in for an induction.’
For many, they will accept that this procedure is best for mum and baby, however quite often they are not told about the pros and cons of accepting an induction, or about the pros and cons of declining an induction, with evidence-based information. Parents need to be given both sides of the story for each alternative to fully be able to make an informed decision.
Parents may also be told things such as ‘baby will get too big’, ‘your placenta might fail’ or, worse still, ‘your body doesn’t know how to get labour started’, which often scare a mother and her birth partner into accepting an induction earlier than necessary.
In the UK the due date is set at 40 weeks, guided by the date of the last menstrual cycle and by the dating scan at 12 weeks. The World Health Organization states that babies are usually born anytime between 37 and 42 weeks. This is a 5-week window, not a single date in a given month. And for a baby to be born around the 42 week mark is perfectly normal.
So take a moment to think that when a woman is offered an induction before the 42-week mark has arrived, she is intervening and interrupting the body during a common period for a baby to be born. Why would you want to do that if you and baby are both well and there are no medical concerns? If you feel strongly about not wanting an induction, you can decline and ask to be monitored more closely during this waiting time.
‘Informed choice’ is one of the many topics discussed in a hypnobirthing course. Ensuring that you understand, during pregnancy, the most common options for labour and birth will give you the confidence and calmness to deal with any situation that arises. By being informed, knowing what the choices are and understanding the associated risks and benefits, you will be able to look back on it as a positive birth experience that you were in control of. Remember, giving birth is your right. How you want it to be is entirely up to you. The caregivers are there to support you for a happy, healthy and safe delivery, not to enforce you to do anything you are not comfortable with.
During a hypnobirthing course, your teacher will explain to you the common scenarios that might occur. This will help you and your birth partner decide on your preferences. Then, if/when a situation arises during the course of labour, you will:
It therefore becomes a positive birth experience to look back on, regardless of any twists and turns in the process; because no matter what the outcome of your birth experience is, you know that:
If you would like to approach labour and birth with calmness, confidence and have the preparation to be able to take control of your birth journey, find a local KG Hypnobirthing teacher. For expectant couples living near Romford, Essex, contact Magical Baby Moments on 07764 680 215 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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