When it comes to having a baby, does the expectant mother have a right to choose the way she would like to have her baby? Truly, what are her choices?
It is common knowledge that encouraging the pregnant couple to make a Birth Plan helps them to shoulder parenting responsibilities in the future. To be able to make choices, they need to become knowledgeable about what happens during the birth, claim ownership of the situation and be able to participate in decision-making with the support of their caregivers. Space needs to be given should a couple not like what is being offered to them, and then if necessary, they may ask elsewhere for a second opinion and even opt for another system that appeals to them better.
Ideally, true choices lie in different systems that are made available. One should be able to choose the people who will care for them, the place and the management of birth. It is one's right to ask pertinent questions with regards to statistics, safety and methods used. This depends on whether the pregnancy is considered low-risk or high-risk. The plan needs to be flexible to cater for instances when the outcome takes a different route than expected.
Some of the topics that offer choices are best discussed during pregnancy, hence the importance of education early in pregnancy. There are many options and whether one prefers a natural, non-medicated birth or a medically assisted delivery, a Birth Plan is the perfect tool to having one's desires met as much as possible. Here are some choices to consider:
- Place of Birth: Home, Midwife-led Birth Centre, Doctor-led Private hospital or Public hospital
- Due date: Labour starts naturally or induced? What kind of induction – natural vs medical?
- Intervention: Monitoring- continuous vs intermittent, vaginal exams, stripping of membranes, rupture of membranes, episiotomy?
- Presence of support persons: partner, doula, family, other qualified persons
- Pain relief: Medical vs Natural. When to offer? Epidural, sedative, tranquillizer, narcotic, / relaxation & breathing techniques, birth pool, hypnotherapy, acupuncture, acupressure,
- Comfort choices: privacy, mobility, positions, room temperature, shower, birthing ball, dim light, music, hot water bottle, ice chips, aromatherapy, TENS,
- The Birth: Pushing, delivery by mother/father, cutting chord delay, skin-to-skin contact, silence, placenta
- Cesarean: total anesthesia, epidural, incision, presence of partner, hospital stay.
- After the Birth: Breastfeeding, formula, bottles, pacifiers, photographs
- Hospital stay: single/shared room, short (hours) or long (days)
Personalising your birth makes it tailor-made for your wishes. This helps make your birth experience a memorable milestone in your life you do not want to forget!
Marianne Theuma I.C.C.E. is a qualified teacher, childbirth educator and an experienced Doula. She directs "In The Family Way", a school for parents based in Marsascala, where various parenting courses, parent clubs and other activities are held regularly. For more information visit Website: www.inthefamilyway.net. or phone 21636735.