Choose your own adventure!

Falling pregnant didn’t come easily for my husband and I. One of the most natural things in the world, for seemingly “everyone” else had its challenges for us, so the minute I saw the two blue lines on that stick, I was consumed by this instant need to make the “best” decisions possible for my growing family. To understand where my decision-making abilities came from, it is important to understand why and where I was in my life. I was working for a major American health company, had travelled extensively, lived in a highly affluent area in Sydney, and was surrounded by a friendship group that were socio economically strong. Naturally the “best” decision for my newly created baby was to book in with an obstetrician and birth at a local Private hospital.

What I now find interesting about this decision, is that by doing this I was unknowingly handing over any power or choice I truly had in how I birthed my baby. It is interesting now, that I realise I never truly questioned whether there was an alternative way to birth. My income almost necessitated that I choose Private care, or so I thought, and “What to Expect when Expecting” was on the top of my reading list during the nine months.

It is important to state that besides the fact that I suffered horrendous “all day sickness” for the entire nine months, I was so thrilled to be pregnant. At no time did I think my care was anything but perfect and I truly did have an amazing birth experience with an obstetrician that cared for me, made me feel confident and respected me the entire time. I do wonder now though, why did I never truly invest in my pregnancy? When I was told about when and why I would be induced, I never thought there was an alternative. When I was handed the pamphlet for the hospital run birthing course, I signed up straight away. I listened intently, during these classes as to when and what sort of pain relief I would ask for during my labour, what sort of interventions would be used if my baby got “stuck” and what brand of dummys and formulas were provided by the hospital. Weirdly, all this information actually made sense to me and relieved any anxiety I had about birthing my baby. On reflection, what this information really did, was make me extremely compliant, submissive and resistant to ever think there was an alternative.

Over the subsequent years, I birthed two more babies. I didn’t use pain relief, during their births and I successfully breast fed both of them (which I hadn’t managed to do with my first). With their births, I began a journey that has resulted in me being a childbirth educator and doula. I still live in the same area of Sydney, am fortunate enough to send my kids to one of the best public schools in NSW and am so privileged in many ways. What I have come to realise is that regardless of where women are situated economically and socially, they owe it to themselves to explore their choices regarding the birth of their babies. They shouldn’t assume, that the most expensive medical option available is going to be the best. There are so many options as to where and how you birth, and a massive difference in opinions as to the best model of medical care. It is also so important to “trust your gut”.  If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. “Mother’s intuition” starts occurring long before you hold that baby in your arms, don’t ignore it….let it guide your decision making.

Choosing an obstetrician in a Private hospital may end up being the right decision for you. And I can’t say, if I did it all again that I wouldn’t necessarily choose exactly the same. What I do know though, is that I would do extra antenatal education. I would be confident in the decisions I was making, not because I was being told they were right, but because I trusted my body and instincts. I do know with that confidence, I would birth in the space, place and position I wanted to…and this is what every mother and baby deserves.