Month seven Q&A
Q: I have my heart set on a natural childbirth with as little interference as possible. I definitely don’t want to go to hospital. Unfortunately my husband isn’t keen. He says it is too risky for me and the baby. How can I convince him? I really need him to support me but he won’t hear me out properly and just says I should come with facts. Please help me get through to him. A: Karin answers: I can hear that you believe you are capable of having this baby naturally, trusting your body and looking for the caregiver that will support you to achieve this dream. I know that hospitals have a reputation for focusing on pathology and the medical management of birth, and you may have to make a careful selection of where you choose to birth to have your needs met. Every doctor and every hospital have their own styles of practice, their own set of rules and protocols, and you have to be sure of where you are going and what that decision involves and that there is a good match between your values and needs. I also hear that your husband does not have enough information to know that any birth outside of a hospital is safe. He most likely does not want to place you or your baby at risk. He is getting used to the idea of becoming a father and protector and his fears are most likely based on inaccurate knowledge of birthing. Good information is a good convincer and enabler for making good decisions. Take him along when you go to interview one or two different midwives and doulas, your gynae, visit a birthing centre and normal maternity ward at the hospital. Ask the most difficult questions (what are the rules and protocols of the doctor and the hospital; what are their birthing statistics; who may be part of the birthing process; what do they use as pain relief measures; is the mother allowed to eat or drink and move around during labour; what do they offer in terms of labour support and interventions; do they do routine episiotomies; is skin-to-skin bonding after birth encouraged; is there rooming in of the baby; what if there is a problem during the birth?) and let him compare the responses to your needs. He may start to notice that obstetricians are experts in complicated births that require interventions but midwives are experts in natural birth where mother and baby are healthy. What he will also most likely determine is that doctors are more attuned to the physical health of the mother, and midwives are more prone to consider the spiritual and emotional aspects of birthing and becoming parents. He may learn that a key to a successful natural birth is a confident mother, good support, avoidance of unnecessary interventions and as little interference as possible. Please explore the concept of freestanding birth centers (like Genesis Clinic in Johannesburg or Origin in Cape Town). They are considered to be a halfway house between the hospital and the home. They offer the unique blend of technology to meet the needs of the fathers for safety and emergency intervention should it be required, but they also focus on the mother’s need for support and as little unnecessary intervention as possible. There are also other sources of information that you could access. There are good books, like The Business of Being Born by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein that provides an analysis of the different birth options beautifully.