Anyone who knows me has probably heard this rant before. When Parents-to-be do hours of research on the best pram, coordinating nursery items and maternity jeans but don’t even do one Google-search on the best way to birth. Arriving to the Birthing Unit in active labour is the wrong time to start thinking about your options. By this stage, you have already engaged with a care-provider (be it Midwife, Obstetrician, public-hospital antenatal clinic, etc.), missed your window to prepare your mind, body and support person for birth, and are not in a good frame of mind to hear about the risks of certain medicalised forms of pain relief or other interventions.
Take pain relief for example, a labouring woman is not able to take in all the information – risks and benefits to them and their baby – between contractions and make a truly informed choice. This can lead to women accepting medicalised forms of pain relief (and the cascade of intervention that may follow) and later regretting that decision.
A truly informed choice is when the woman is educated and researches during (or ideally even before) her pregnancy. This enables her to look at the information objectively, take the time to process it and then take steps to ensure she is supported.
If she decides a natural, non-medicalised birth is for her, then preparing herself and her support person is paramount. She also needs to carefully consider her care-provider. An Independent Midwife, for example, is usually far more experienced in facilitating natural, non-medicalised birth and is far more likely to make non-medicalised suggestions like change of position, use of bath or shower, etc. to facilitate a natural, non-medicalised birth then other care-providers such as a Private Obstetrician. If she decides that an epidural is a very big possibility and she is happy with the risks, then a care provider that empowers this decision is important.
It is important that the woman discusses her decisions with her support person and care provider well before labour begins. Support persons and care providers need to be on-board 100% to easily facilitate the woman’s choices. She doesn’t need to be explaining her choice to not have an epidural between contractions at 8cm when she should be in her birthing zone and resting.
My advice to all pregnant woman, their partners and support people, is do your research and research and more research! Talk to your Midwife or Doctor and take steps to ensure your choices are supported. It is Your Body, Your Birth and Your Baby.