Month seven Q&A

Your Pregnancy - - Contents - Karin Steyn

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.

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