This is the second of my 'Top 5 tips for a positive and empowering birth experience'.
Giving birth is as intimate as making love. The same cocktail of hormones that are produced during love making, and conception, are the same cocktail of hormones that are required for birthing.
For these hormones to function effectively, the right environment is vital. Would you make love in a bright, cold, noisy room with multiple people present to observe? Well….you might, but the majority of women wouldn’t!
The ideal birthing environment is one where the labouring woman feels safe, unobserved and free from judgement. This generally involves a dark, quiet room, familiar belongings and minimal observers. If her body feels unsafe, or perceives any kind of threat, the hormones many not work as well, and her body can stall or 'shut down' labour.
The best support person to have is the person who is going to respect your wishes, help advocate for you and who will be helpful when you need them to be. You need to trust this person and feel comfortable to 'let go' and do what feels right to you. This might involve being naked, swearing, yelling, moaning or being silent.
Sometimes husbands/partners are not the best support people. Some partners are terrified of birth and, even though they love you and their unborn child, they just don't want to be there. It's really important to have an open and honest conversation with them and decide together whether they feel that they can be present and properly support you, or whether it would be better to choose someone else to be with you during labour.
There are two different categories of support people, and they each have their own pros and cons. You can choose to have a family member or friend, or you could hire a privately practicing midwife or doula. The benefits of hiring a midwife or doula are endless - but the main thing is that they have experience in supporting women during labour, and they are unbiased and only have your best interests at heart.
The benefits of positive birth support include:
- Reduced levels of pain
- More likely to give birth without intervention
- Increased confidence
- Enhanced experience of labour
- Less likely to use pain relief
- Shorter length of labour
I hope that you have found this blog helpful, and that it has encouraged you to seriously think about who you will choose to support you during your birthing experience.
Hormonal physiology of Childbearing: Evidence and Implications for women, babies and maternity care. Dr Sarah J Buckley, 2015.
The Role of Hormones in Childbirth
Evidence on: Doulas
Evidence Based Birth
Choosing a birth support person
This is the first of my 'Top 5 tips for a positive and empowering birth experience'.
Currently, there are a number of different models of maternity care in Australia.
More often than not, when you go to the GP and tell them that you are pregnant, they will ask which Obstetrician you want to see and which hospital you want to give birth at. Sure, some couples will want to go 'private' for whatever reason, but there are a number of other pathways that you can choose:
- standard care at a public hospital
- caseload/midwifery group practice at a public hospital
- private Obstetrician at a public hospital
- shared care with your GP at a public hospital
- home birth with a privately practicing midwife
- hospital birth with a privately practicing midwife
- home birth through a public hospital (currently only Casey and Sunshine hospitals)
This is a really important decision to make, as the place of birth and type of lead care provider can influence the outcome of your birth.
Statistically, there are more interventions and a higher rate of caesarean section when you chose to birth at a private hospital. According to the Victorian Perinatal Services Performance Indicators 2016-2017, the rate of caesarean section in low risk first time mums in a public hospital is 16.1% compared to 34.1% in a private hospital (www2.health.vic.gov.au).
Don't get me wrong, I am not 'anti' Obstetrician. I know many fabulous doctors, and I chose to have an Obstetrician during my second pregnancy.
If you don't have the money, or do not have private health insurance, then you are probably going to 'book in' to the local public hospital. However, for those of you who do have health insurance it is important to do your research before making your decision: talk to friends, family, look at internet/social media reviews etc.
Ask the Obstetrician what their intervention rates are - for example caesarean section (elective and emergency), induction of labour, instrumental births. You can also look at the report that I mentioned above and compare the intervention rates of each of the different hospitals in Victoria.
At any time during your pregnancy, you have the right to change care providers. Whether that is changing doctors, changing hospitals or requesting a new midwife. It is so important to trust your instincts - if you feel brushed off or not listened to during your antenatal appointments it is a good indicator of how that particular care provider (doctor or midwife) will treat you during labour. You MUST feel that your feelings and wishes will be respected.
In saying this, sometimes a pregnancy is considered 'high-risk' and it will be recommended that you have your baby at a particular hospital or with a particular doctor. It will not be as easy to change things, however you still have every right to feel listened to and respected, and you can request not to see a certain midwife or doctor again.
I hope that you found this tip helpful, stayed tuned as I'll be sharing more of my 'Top 5 tips for a positive and empowering birth experience' shortly.