I hear so many women and families make comments such as
“I’m just going to go with the flow!” “The midwives and doctors are the professionals, they’ll tell me what to do!” “ It’s natural so what do I have to know anything about it for?”
There are some good points to these comments, however, there are also a number of issues with this kind of attitude towards your birth. So what are they?
Why is positive birth preparation so important?
Going with the flow is a great way to stay relaxed, enjoy and not get too worried about complications, HOWEVER, the problem with this attitude and comment is that it can hide a multitude of fear. It is like going into an exam with a relaxed attitude but having not studied, that is great to begin with but it is not long into the exam that you are going to start to stress, tense and start to understand and experience more pain than the other students.
The midwives and doctors in hospitals are professionals, they are the “experts” of birth, but not you, not your family, not your history, not your body, the only person that is the best judge, the best expert of your experience is you. If you don’t have all the facts, if you don’t know the questions to ask, then how are you going to know that you are in fact making the best call? The best decision for your baby and yourself?
As for “it’s natural so why do I need to know anything more?”
When was the last time you heard a positive birth story? When was the last time you had a complete conversation about positive birth with someone? Someone who truly understood what was going on? Who do you know that has had a positive birth where they felt in tune with their instincts, their intuition and they followed it? Birth is a life event, it is not a medical event, however, for many women they don’t know how to experience birth as a life event as opposed to a medical event. Many women struggle to get in tune with their internal monitors, their internal judgement and rely on the external environment to tell them what they are or are not feeling.
So as you can see positive birth preparation is important for so many reasons, the excuses and reasons we give ourselves and others while they sound great and are based on a solid reasoning, are flawed, they need to be backed up with MORE.
Positive Birth Preparation assists with:
- Knowing your options, the benefits as well as the risks
- It provides you an opportunity to do more research, discuss further with others prior to making a decision on the day. On the day you will have little to go on except what the professionals are saying
- Making the right decision for you and your family through your positive pregnancy and positive birth, especially in care settings where you see a different midwife each appointment and in labour. This midwife does not know your ability to listen to your baby and body, she does not know what positive preparation, what positive research you have done except what is written on your birth preferences. In these circumstances it is even more important to know your options and be able to make an informed decision regarding any circumstance that arises, good, bad or slightly different to expected.
- It gives you and your partner the opportunity to discuss your birth preferences, while an option may seem obvious to mum, her partner may have a different obvious opinion and it is important to air these prior to a decision needing to be made in pregnancy, labour or birth.
- It means you can prioritise what is important to you, what is a definite yes/no, what preferences throughout your pregnancy journey have more wiggle room in them?
- It means you can plan a potential cascade of intervention – we know that inductions are a much higher risk of further intervention being introduced, more pain relief and a higher rate of cesarean section. By knowing your options you can plan if you need an induction/antibiotics/cesarean and what you are happy to have with this, what you would prefer to avoid and where you would like to have more time/alternatives/discussion to continue to plan for a positive birth.
- It means if you do decide that a certain hospital policy or “normal” intervention/preference is NOT for you and your family you can prepare for this, you can gather research to support your choice, you can practice what you will say. Your birth companion can practice advocating for your rights as parents.
By knowing what is involved with birth preferences and getting fully informed it gives you and your partner the opportunity to go away and gather more information, discuss, get in tune with your baby, your body. So when the situation arises, you are not scared, you are not bullied, you are aware, you are informed and you are completely comfortable as a family in what you wish to do with the information provided by your care provider.
Positive Birth Preparation is not…
Just for interventions, or complications. Birth preparation is for knowing your options for tests and interventions in pregnancy and preparation for labour and birth. It is for knowing ALL of your options regarding labour and birth, pain relief (natural, pharmaceutical and the complete benefits and risks or each). It is about knowing what you want after your babies birth, for the birth of placenta and your babies transition to extrauterine life. It is about immunisations for your baby, discharge times, baby feeding, the list goes on.