This article has been written for Parental Choice by Arezou Rezvani, a private midwife, with many years’ experience on helping mothers to be as well as new mothers in their first few weeks of motherhood.
Once your pregnancy is confirmed, you will need to see your GP to get a referral to the hospital of your choice. You can get your GP’s advice or search on line about the hospitals around you. It is very difficult to decide purely on the statistics that are available. For example some hospitals may have higher rate of caesarean sections compared to others. This may be due to many factors such as the clients’ needs and the population in that area. As a minimum you should look at the facilities and the services that each hospital offers, as well as the distance and the support they provide during the postnatal period.
You could also choose to have your baby at home or in a midwifery led unit. Women who have had a homebirth experience report it as being an amazing experience, and you are guaranteed two midwives at birth. Homebirth is recommended for second time mothers who have had a previous normal delivery, alternatively, there are birth centres where you can have your baby and go home a few hours after birth.
Once you have decided on where you would like to give birth, you will meet your midwife around 8-10 weeks for your booking appointment, where the midwife will take your medical history and discuss the screening tests available during your pregnancy. Antenatal care varies from hospital to hospital. Never the less you should be seen at least 7 times during your pregnancy if it’s your first baby. During any antenatal check up your blood pressure, urine and the size of the abdomen should be checked. You should also have a discussion regarding your birth plan at around 34 weeks with your midwife.
It is important to have an open mind regarding the birth. Your birth plan is not black and white. Labour is unique, each woman and each birth is different. You may read lots of things and have a certain idea of how things should be but babies come whenever they want and women progress differently. The important factor is to try to focus and speak to your partner beforehand about how you wish things to go and what should happen if things don’t quite go to plan. When you are in labour, you may not be able to make a decision; the hormones and stress of labour may have an effect on your decision making. So your partner should have your and your baby’s best interests at heart. Drinking, being mobile and eating high-energy snack bars can help you throughout labour. Environment can also be very important in the production of syntocinon the hormone which brings on contractions. For first time mums antenatal classes can prepare you for what is available, however remember that not everyone is the same.
The key is to be well prepared and have done your research on the hospital where you want to be and the type of birth you want to have. You need to have a plan about how in theory you wish the birth to progress but be flexible in case things don’t quite work out the way you would have wanted. Most importantly, get plenty of rest as the big day looms. Having a baby is overwhelming; no matter how good your antenatal classes are or how thorough your research; no one can prepare you for the challenges and the joys of a new-born baby.
Write these 4 P’s on the wall of your bedroom and keep reminding yourself:
Patience, Persistence, Persevere and Don’t Panic!
Enjoy your baby and good luck!!!