Over the past three and a half years, since I found hypnobirthing and Sammy was born, I’ve read, listened, watched and learned more and more about women, their voices, their stories and how much maternity services matter.
I need somewhere for my own voice, for this time around, for this birth.
This week is a milestone, 20 weeks, scan, consultant. It’s been bizarre. I guess I’ve been looking forward to it but in a cautious way. I’ve not been naive to think my journey would be straightforward. But also now I’m more involved in the world of birthing I know more of my own rights and why things happen.
I’m deemed ‘high risk’. I had a seizure with Rafe in labour resulting in a section under general. Then with Sam I was fine I had a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean) thanks to hypnobirthing, an extremely awesome midwife (thanks Alberto), consultant and anaesthetist. I was on the obstetric unit and I did have an epidural all according to plan, calm, collected and pretty life changing.
But I’m still deemed high risk. For two reasons; 1 – I’ve had a section; 2 – I’ve had a seizure.
So here I am 20 weeks pregnant with my third baby. Healthy happy and decidedly average according to the scan.
My job is to talk to women about birth, labour and their choices (over at the confident birth company) so I knew what I wanted for this birth before we’d even conceived. Nothing fancy or hippy. Just a birth at a midwife led birth centre. As close to a home environment as we’d all feel happy with, far enough away from a doctor to let things happen, close enough to call on their expertise if we need it. Happy medium. Right for us.
It seems maternity services aren’t as cut out to help me with my choice as I’d hoped. My midwife told me to go to my consultant appointment armed with research to back up my desire, a consultant I met at a conference suggested I ease up a bit and go in with an open mind, see what the consultant has to say. So I did. And right now I feel let down.
My consultant seemed torn between what’s best for me and my baby, making sure ‘risks’ are understood, covering the hospital and, shockingly, the stress of the midwives perhaps over my own anxiety, stress and wishes.
I’ve been advised it would be best to labour on the obstetric ward. I don’t feel any judgement has been placed on the facilitation of a successful labour. No emphasis has been given to creating the right environment for me. Little thought to what I need to make sure my mind and body work together to deliver my baby. I don’t feel listened to about how I know my body, understand myself why I had a seizure, need to trust my body to know how to work. After all it was when I was advised to work against my body and not push that my seizure happened. Which I knew was going to happen, even though I’ve never fitted before I told my midwife it was going to happen. I know my body. I know what I need.
I feel for my consultant. She could see what I need, I know she could. But stronger than what I need is the safety net for her and the hospital. Even though simply going to an obstetric unit could hamper my labour it’s more important they are covered. The crux seems to be if I drown in the birthing pool.
So what’s the risk? Of a fit, she thinks around 1%. I’m sure it would be lower in a midwife led unit than obstetric. That’s how it works. Intervention leads to intervention, leads to more emergency situations.
I tried to get this across but didn’t feel heard. And what I heard back was the midwives need to feel comfortable to have me. She wouldn’t want them stressed. I’m totally in awe of midwives. And get they are overworked and undervalued by some. But surely I’m more important? Last I checked I am the one getting this baby out. If I’m relaxed there’s much less reason for them to be stressed.
I was told if I turn up to the maternity unit in labour banging on the door they won’t turn me away. Seems conducive to a calm relaxing birth. Very welcoming. Stress free. No?
Now I have to see the supervisor of midwives who I can only hope will support me and welcome me without a battle. It’s just sad I have to even think of a battle.
Right now to me this is policy led care, we are promised woman centred care. I want that promise.
I want them to hear my voice, hear my choice.
It might not be accepted. We shall see.