1. Be informed
Let’s say you haven’t done your research during pregnancy, and you reach 38 weeks your doctor says, “We’ll do a vaginal exam today, and while I’m there I’ll do a sweep”, how do you respond? Attending quality independent childbirth education (no matter what method or type) can be the difference that makes a difference. Your childbirth education should leave you feeling confident, informed, knowing where to do further research, and excited for birth. It should also leave you in a position to be able to make quick decisions during pregnancy, labour and birth, if things veer in an unexpected direction. You only get one shot to birth your baby, make sure you’re showing up and making decisions from a place of knowledge and not from fear.
2. Preferences and Plans – the research is the POWER
So, you’ve attended your childbirth education course (great!); now it’s time to really think about your preferences for birthing. It’s no good rocking up to a birth course, to then think, “Goodo, I’ve done my Hypnobirthing classes now, I’m all set to go!”. Uh ah! Not true. The real work begins now. Now is the time to take the learnings, conduct further research, and begin to plan out your ideal birth. No eyerolling please; I know that we can never truly ‘plan’ out all things, and I know that we cannot guarantee your ‘ideal birth’. But birth plans/preferences DO make a difference, and for me, the most important aspect of the birth plan is not the piece of paper, but rather the bucket load of research you must do to put your plan in place. The research is the POWER!
3. Use your B.R.A.I.N
It’s simple. Before you agree to any procedure, test, or intervention, ask yourself the following:
B – What are the BENEFITS?
R – What are the RISKS (both for, and against)?
A – Are there any ALTERNATIVES?
I – What does my INTUITION (or gut) say?
N – What if we do NOTHING? Is waiting a bit longer, an option?
You also have the right, to request time to make your decision. Obviously, in a true emergency there may not be time, but if this is the case, it will become obvious very quickly. In the absence of a true medical emergency, use your BRAIN.
4. “I decline”
So, you’ve done your research, you’ve made your plan, you’ve used your B.R.A.I.N, and you are making the decision to say “no”. I always say, “You can absolutely decline any intervention or procedure presented to you, but you must be comfortable with your decision and comfortable with any consequences of your decision. The buck stops with you! This is your birth, your body, your baby and you get the final say”. Sometimes, a simple “no” isn’t heard (it totally should be though!). You might like to instead use, “I decline”, or, to get the big guns out, “I do not consent”.
5. Choose your team wisely
No matter what type of care you choose you need to be absolutely certain that your team is on your side (they work for you!). Will you birth in the hospital, a birth centre, or at home? Will you hire a private midwife, a private ob, or go through the public system. What models of care are available to you? Look at ALL of the options and then find the care provider or care team who is speaking YOUR language. In your appointments, listen carefully to what your chosen care provider says. Are they supportive and respectful? Are they giving you ALL of the information (including risks and benefits)? Or are you only getting half of the story?
This leads me to a sneaky BONUS tip…
6. Bonus Tip
Mama, until that baby has exited your womb, you have OPTIONS. If you are feeling unsupported, unheard, disrespected, or unsafe – find a new provider or a new place of birth!
Elyse Jamieson – Hypnobirthing Australia™ Practitioner & Doula
Phillip Island and surrounding areas