Birth choices: why I chose birth centre care

The way a woman chooses to give birth is in today’s society a hotly discussed topic. It seems it’s now a no holds barred conversation piece, with even strangers unafraid to ask ‘natural or caesar?’ ‘drugs or no drugs?’ ‘public or private?’ in the name of small talk.

It’s a good thing that birthing has been brought out of the closest, so to speak, but these discussions have now lead to simplistic conclusions related to the mother’s choice or circumstance of the birth and with them latent judgements.

You’ve had an elective caesarean? You must be ‘too posh to push’. Vaginal birth, but with an epidural? Well, that’s cheating. Emergency caesarean? Must have been caused by the ‘cascade of intervention’ in a hospital environment. Vaginal birth, no drugs? Well, you must just be plain crazy.

With my first pregnancy, I elected to go public and entered the ballot for birth centre care at the Royal Brisbane Women Hospital, Brisbane. With demand outstripping places available, it really is a like entering a raffle. So I honestly felt like I’d won the lotto when I found out I got in at the 16 week mark.

The RBWH Birth Centre is the only place in Brisbane where you can labour and birth in water if you so choose. It’s a midwife led model of care for low risk women who desire a natural drug-free birth in a homely environment but with full medical care close at hand.

I got met with my mixed bag of ‘are you crazy?’ type reactions as well as positive encouragement when I told people about my choice to try for a drug-free birth. But as I started attending my appointments and meeting my team of three midwives I felt confident that however my birth went down, that I was where I needed to be and was receiving the best possible care for me.

And that’s just it, we’re all different. What’s feels right for me, won’t feel right for the next woman.

As it turned out my birth didn’t go entirely to plan, and I was transferred up to Birth Suite for some fluids and a syntocin drip to speed things along.

With my known midwife by my side, I didn’t hesitate when she gently suggested transferring and despite a few dramas along the way, including an almost emergency caesarean when it was thought my baby was in distress, I managed to push by 8lb, 13 oz baby boy out without pain relief drugs.

My answers to some of the ‘probing post labour’ enquiries seemed to illicit strong views on either side of the fence ‘why did they let you labour so long?’ asked some, others seemed concerned with the interventions I agreed to and expressed disappointment that I had to transfer.

Suddenly my labour, which I was happy with, had been incorrectly interpreted by people who weren’t even there. Sure it was long, sure there were a few decisions to be made along the way and a few scary moments but it was my journey and I was proud.

So with that in mind, I didn’t hesitate to put my name down for birth centre care again this time around and am very happy to report I got in!

As my midwife said last week at my first appointment, the labour process is not just one day – it’s the support you receive along the way and after the event that’s the most important.

And how each woman wishes to be supported is such an individual consideration. So let’s support other women in their birth choices and leave the judgement behind  – and that goes for the self-judgement too. Labour doesn’t always go to plan and not everyone’s plans need to be the same. Whatever gets you through, I say!

What choices did you make for your births? Did you ever feel judged for your choice?

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6 thoughts on “Birth choices: why I chose birth centre care

  1. Living in the country, we dont have as much choice as our city sisters when it comes things considered outside the realm of a traditional hospital birth ( like water births or doulas for eg ) but even then a few people expressed their opinions about my then fiance ( now husband ) and i choosing to NOT Have him in the delivery room.
    Some people felt ” bad ” for me having to do it without him, some called him a coward, or were a bit mad that he wasnt there to support me…. without so much as asking how i felt. We made that decision because it was the best for both of us, and i chose to have my mum in the suite with me for support – and i birthed a gorgeous baby ( now almsot 2 yrs old ) and i was happy and proud at what i’d done….

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    • That’s a good point about fathers in the delivery room, Amy. Now that its the ‘norm’ for fathers to be there, it must put pressure on fathers that do not wish to be there (for whatever reason) to accompany their partner when it’s not something that’s right for them, potentially making for an unpleasant experience for all. Good on you both for sticking to your decision despite the detractors! x

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      • I agree – so much pressure is placed on the poor dads to know how to support a woman through the process of labour. Good on you!!! We employed a Doula to provide the support during labour as I didn’t think it was fair to put all that pressure on my husband to know exactly what to do plus I didn’t want to spend my labour yelling instructions haha.

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  2. Whatever a woman’s choice is on how / where they give birth is totally up to them.. why us women seem to have to always want to have our opinion or make judgement on birthing is beyond me.. I had two natural drug free births, but that was what was right for me.. each person is unique and every circumstance is unique too.. so how about we all just Live and let Live!!

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  3. Belinda, I just want to say that it’s so refreshing to see someone who proudly displays their initial post baby picture! Kudos to you! And it’s just lovely. A very special moment that is beyond words. Hope all goes well for you with #2 🙂

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  4. Thanks for another great post! Yes everyone seems to think they have a right to judge womans personal choices on such a special and unique journey. We are all different and as such entitled to our individual choices! People DEF call me crazy as I delivered my 11pd baby boy (yes #1) naturally, with no drugs or interference at a private hospital with one of australias highest c-section rate. I put it down to my dogged determination to stick to my birth plan, having a doula with me and finding a fantastic and supportive obs in an environment where interference is almost the norm. The funny thing is 2 years later we are still talked about in that hospital as something out of the ordinary…yet shouldn’t a natural no interference birth be the norm???

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