The Positive Birth Movement - Place of Birth
The place you give birth is one of the most important decisions you can make.
When I was pregnant with my first baby girl, I thought about where I would feel safe during my birth and decided this would be at a hospital with midwives and doctors able to provide me with the best medicalised care that I may need during my labour. In planning my second birth, I felt that the deep sense of safety, love and nurturing that I knew was so important to a woman in labour, might be more available to me at home. I took what I had learned from my first birth and am now hoping to create that at home.
The birthplace which you know is right for you is the one in which you feel SAFE, UNINHIBITED and RESPECTED. That can be a hospital, a birthing centre, you’re home or even in the middle of the forest. This is your birth! It is said that the environment in which you made your baby should be the same environment in which you bring your baby into the world - i.e. low lighting, private, undisturbed, relaxing.
It is up to every woman to make that happen for her. It's important to think about what you really want from your birthplace & to make that your reality.
As the women arrived for the meeting, I could already hear them talking about their various birth choices - a few women had decided to come to the meeting as they were considering a home birth and wanted to know more. Others were planning to give birth at the birth centre and one woman was having an elective c-section. Many of them came to share their experiences too - all uniquely different. What all these women had in common was their desire to feel positive about pregnancy and birth and share that empowerment with one another. We were already off to a great start!
I threw out some of the questions below to the group:
What makes the birthplace positive for you?
Pregnant ladies – where are you planning to give birth? Why have you chosen that?
Mums – where did you give birth and what was your experience? Why did you chose that place?
How did you prepare for birth?
Did it go to plan? If not, how did you feel about it?
When things don't go to plan, what are the ways in which we can maximise our chances of a positive birth?
It sparked off a lot of conversation on a whole range of themes including: home births, water births, births planned at home and ending in hospital, elective caesareans....it was fascinating to listen to. What these women all wanted or had from their experience was the need to be in control and respected. One woman had experienced a whole multitude of complications in the run up to and during her baby's birth. The room was expecting her to say it was a horrendous experience but after sharing her birth story she stopped and said "it was still the most positive experience because I felt looked after and listened to".....We all gave a sigh of relief and concluded that a mother's psychological well-being is so very important no matter where she gives birth. The first-time pregnant women in the room had never come across a conversation of this nature before - it was all negative birth stories and the stress of which buggy & car seat to buy. The sense of empowerment they felt as they were informing themselves and exploring their options was beautiful to witness.
Many women aren't exploring or being informed of what their birth choices are with many first-time mothers assuming they will give birth in hospital. It is in yours and your baby's best interest to have a thorough conversation with your midwife and ask lots of questions before you make that decision. You can ask to see the birth statistics for the hospital you plan to give birth in - i.e. water birth, caesarean, transfer and intervention rates. What is the home birth team like and what care would you receive if you took this route? Can you take a tour of the hospital or can you view the ward on their website? What care will you receive after birth? Ask yourself what birth experience YOU would like and then explore your options.
If, after talking to your midwife, you feel that you still want to explore your options then you can always contact your Supervisor of Midwives at the hospital. They make sure that the care you receive from your midwife is right for you and will meet your needs. They provide advice about the various options for care available to you and any support you may need during your pregnancy and birth.
Which.co.uk is a great Birth Choice tool to help you decide where you want to give birth. It helps you understand your maternity options, get expert advice and find local places that are the best fit for you.
Kirstie Coxon's fantastic Birthplace Decisions document is also a very informative read.
Preparation is so important during pregnancy - when you have all the information only then can you make informed decisions.
It is YOUR body, YOUR baby and YOUR birth. Where you birth, is YOUR choice.
A calm and peaceful hospital birth.