Women now have more say over what they do in pregnancy, where they spend their labour, who is with them, what they do and the choices they have in caring for their baby.
With this freedom though comes intense feelings around wanting to ‘get it right’ – whatever that is. Add in the internet and there is more information available and more options than women can often deal with.
For most women the best start is to find someone to provide care, information and support who can be you source of information. Having one person as your care giver for pregnancy, birth and the first weeks of mothering is more and more possible, no matter where you are and what your circumstances are than ever before. Most hospitals, public and private, have options to have either your own midwife or doctor for pregnancy care and to have that same person available for you in labour and in the first weeks after birth. In the public hospital system these are referred to as ‘caseload’ models where there is one midwife assigned to you, or ‘team’ models where a small group of people are allocated to care for you. In the private system your care can come from a private obstetrician or, in a new option, a private midwife and you can employ your own midwife to be with you in the public hospital system.
- The key is to find that person to be your trusted source of information. Once you are pregnant your next steps should include:Go online, do a search for what is available in your area. Search terms such as ‘midwife’ ‘obstetrician’ ‘pregnancy care’ ‘postnatal care’ ‘midwife’ or ‘obstetrician’.
- Speak to your local hospitals, both public and private about what they offer. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that private or public care will be ‘better’ – it is like comparing a Mercedes to a BMW in some cases – because the options inside are different. You may be able to be treated as a private patient in a public hospital and have more options available.
- Speak to your GP, but not just your GP. Some GP’s have a very good understanding of all the options for care, but others do not.
- Check out the ‘newer’ options – midwifery care with your own midwife has been shown by research to lead to better outcomes. Midwives liaise with obstetricians so even if your pregnancy is complicated having a midwife by your side could give you the support you need.
Once you have a few choices shop around. Do not just go to one place and stick to it unless you are really sure. It is an important decision – and should be based on not only the information the person gives and where they provide birth care, but also on their personality and how you feel when you talk to them. Remember this is a special time, your care provider is there to give you confidence and support.Liz Wilkes is the Managing Director of My Midwives (www.mymidwives.com.au) and the immediate past president of Midwives Australia.