Guest blog written by one of our fabulous Mummy’s
Many of the women who are currently pregnant or have recently given birth are highly educated, high flying managers. We are after all being blamed/credited with the recent baby boom, a whole generation of women who put off having children until their late thirties or early forties in order to have a career. We know how to manage people, lead teams and meet deadlines. We know that having the right team in place is crucial to getting a job done.
Why then, when told – this is how you’re going to give birth and these are the resources you get – do we simply say “oh, ok then”?
As a woman in a position of responsibility at work we would have already answered some pretty big emotional questions before even getting pregnant, do I really want children being the biggest. Having made that decision and conceived there’s then the whole battery of testing and deciding if you’re going to test for Down’s and all the stress and further questions that brings with it. Having made it halfway it is quite easy just to throw your hands up and say “yeah, whatever just tell me when to turn up” but this is the time when we need our business heads screwed on.
Whether you have worked in a large corporate environment or for yourself, you can appreciate the skills and professionalism other people bring to the team. You are a whizz at what you do and have probably felt out of your comfort zone when trying to deal with areas outside your expertise. Be it finance or marketing or computer design, we’ve all felt that sense of relief when someone comes on board who has that as their expertise and we can happily hand that over knowing it’s no longer going to be our headache. We can focus on what we do best.
So who is going to be on your baby dream team? Well conventional wisdom says you’ll be in a hospital, with a midwife and your partner, but who wants to be conventional!
Let’s start with the first one, in a hospital. I have no problem with women birthing in hospital, as long as that’s where they want to be. Some women are most comfortable knowing all the medical backup is there if they require it and besides, who wants to end up pooing on their own floor. For me, the whole business of knowing when to go in was far too stressful, I’d rather be somewhere where I could make toast or get a warmer pair of socks if I wanted to.
At this point you have to bring all your research skills in as there may be options you haven’t been told about, such as birthing centres. These are midwife led units for the specific purpose of giving birth rather than being a ward in part of a hospital. Weather there is one near you however is a different matter. In my experience you have to search for them, the NHS doesn’t really have a ‘services we offer’ section on one handy website like companies that have a decent marketing budget.
I was lucky in that the community midwife I was under supported my decision for home birth. As I neared 42 weeks however things changed as I was urged to go into hospital for induction. Fortunately the senior midwife recognised that I was low risk and was fine with my decision but what do you do as an educated woman if you find yourself in that position?
In today’s economic climate many of us, happy in our jobs, have been in a meeting where that dreaded word “relocation” rears its head. We all know how much stress that brings. So what do we do in that situation? Do we make plans to move, sit it out and wait for the redundancy or pack it all in there and then and get something closer to home? If you’re told you HAVE to have your baby in hospital treat it the same way. Decide how you feel about it and either say cool, and pack your bags or dig your heels in and say actually, that’s not for me thanks.
Next thing to think about is the midwife. This vital member of the team who actually supports your baby’s entry into the world. I saw a comment on facebook asking how you picked your babies name and was surprised at the number of girls whose middle name was taken from the midwife who delivered them. That is how important this role is, you are so grateful for a good midwife you trust you are prepared to name your child after her. But guess what, you might not actually meet this woman until you’re legs akimbo and trying to remember to breathe, not an ideal position to be in to conduct an interview. It baffles me why mums are not given the option to meet the midwives in the area, just to say hi and tell her your name before she’s called upon to sick her hand up your fanny! No wonder you’re going to be a little tense in that situation.
You do of course have the option to hire a private midwife. I say ‘of course’ but again this isn’t really something you’re told about. This is a person you pay but will be able to build up a relationship with and make sure she knows how you feel about which pain relief you want and when, because sometimes putting it in the birth plan just doesn’t cut it. Imagine handing your long-thought-out business case over to some contractor to present, you just wouldn’t do it without making sure they knew exactly what you considered the vital points and yet you’re expected to hand over the safe delivery of your child to someone you may have met only 10 minutes ago.
This brings me to the last member of the conventional team, you’re birthing partner. It is expected that this will be your partner but you have to have a serious conversation with them about this. Do they REALLY want to be there? If it’s your first child together at best you’re going to get an eager intern, at worse a reluctant work experience that missed out on their first choice and instead got stuck with you. And what do you do if, once you’re clutching your new born baby to your chest, your partner didn’t live up to your expectations as a birthing partner? The energy drinks you so carefully chose remain unopened, the massage you practiced in the anti-natal class didn’t get done, the pain relief options you discussed got forgotten and while concentrating on your hypno birthing techniques you hear “oh yeah, give her an epidural”. What can you do? Reprimand them and tell them to try harder next time? Or hire a professional from the outset?
The translation of Doula is mother’s servant but when explaining to people that I have a doula I tell them it’s a professional birthing partner. This is not some wannabe midwife. This is a woman who makes a career out of helping women give birth so she’s bloomin’ good at it! The services they offer are wide ranging and I can just speak from my own experience. I wanted a conscious me, someone who would know what I wanted and communicate this while I got on with bringing my baby into the world. Someone who could see when I needed a drink or just to be left on my own.
Doulas can also bring that continuance of care which is missing in the midwifery position. My Doula was with me from very early on in my pregnancy. She was my hypno birthing instructor and supported me through my wobbles in breast feeding as well as being on 24 hour call from week 38 of my pregnancy.
Every Doula brings a lot of themselves to the job so meet with a few and see who you click with.
So that’s what I would consider to be the core of your birthing dream team. There are other people you can include such as, an aroma therapist, an acupuncturist, a homeopath, a reflexologist; the list can be as big as your bank balance. Have a budget meeting with your partner and work out what is really important to you, what is an essential and what would be a ‘nice to have’.
As the Beach Boys sang, “you need a mess of help to stand alone”, just make sure your mess consists of the right people because when it comes to giving birth no-one can do it for you.