And Friday I was. I (Steph, the preggo one in the team!) had gone for what should have been a straightforward meeting with my midwife to grab a form which I wasn’t given at my 20 week scan, but came away feeling annoyed, defensive, and with a small seed of doubt planted in my mind.
First I was caught off guard by it not being my usual midwife when I went in. I actually asked for the same midwife I had when pregnant with Florence as even though she now works outside of my closest clinic, I found her to be a real reassurance and great supporter of the type of birth I was aiming for then, and am aiming for again this time around – basically she’s worth the drive! Anyway, the midwife I saw Friday, lovely though she was, seemed much more ‘risk adverse’ shall we say. She was smiley, chatty and gave baby and I a full check over which I hadn’t been expecting given that I was there primarily to grab a form, but as soon as she looked over my notes I felt like she looked unimpressed to read that I was planning another homebirth after my minor PPH at home. That feeling was confirmed by the conversation throughout the rest of the appointment.
The decision to plan to give birth at home again after losing around 800ml last time (enough to be considered an issue in our trust, but not all trusts) isn’t a decision we have come to lightly. I have spent a lot of time since Florence was born reading up about Post Partum Haemorrhage – research papers, ways to reduce the risks, the benefits of home vs hospital settings etc and felt confident making that choice especially as I had the support of my midwife too. At my booking appointment we discussed my previous birth, the impact it had on me, the treatment needed (none!), risks of it happening again, the risks and benefits of opting to birth both at home, and on the labour ward as would likely be recommended, and I felt like was treated as an individual. She referred me to a consultant as per trust policy, but didn’t make me feel that policy was more important than looking at my situation as a whole.
Friday I felt like I was having to justify my choices, and reiterate that I was not making uneducated decisions. I was told I should be in the hospital with a cannula ‘just in case’, that women who have one PPH often have another, and that home wasn’t really a great choice of place to give birth. I was asked if I knew the risks, and if I knew that I HAD to transfer in anyway if the midwife felt there was a problem. Now I’m not daft, of course I would agree to transfer in if there was something indicating a problem with myself of my baby, but just like you, I don’t HAVE to do anything advised unless I agree to it. I don’t say that to be awkward of defiant, but because so many women get spoken to like this throughout their pregnancies and don’t actually realise that the choice is theirs alone to make, obviously medical advice and recommendations should be taken seriously but if you’ve got time to research yourself before making a decision do, or ask for a second opinion if you don’t feel the first is right and you’re not in a position to research at home.
Anyway I came out feeling quite annoyed that I wasn’t really given a balanced overview, or any alternatives during the appointment (admittedly I could have asked for more info/alternatives as I would urge you to do in a situation like this, but as it wasn’t my usual midwife and I needed to get back for preschool pick up I didn’t actually do that). It even triggered me to question if she thought I was being naïve about the situation due to my role as a hypnobirthing teacher (it was mentioned / asked about a few times and she didn’t seem to have had much experience with it)… I know not all schools of thought when it comes to hypnobirthing are as openminded about how they perceive medical intervention or hospital settings etc but I am realistic, just like the rest of the team here at Do It Like A Mother! I know not all births can, or should, happen at home or without the support of a wider team than just our wonderful midwives. We are extraordinarily lucky to have the extra support, staff, equipment and drugs there when they are needed!
So what did I do after this?!
- I went home and spoke to matt about it. I realised some of what I was feeling was probably down to my own perception / vulnerabilities. We chatted again about our options and what felt best to us, how we would navigate a change of plan at home (especially important given that Florence wants to be with us for the birth).
- I looked again over the research and information about PPH, I will continue to do so through the pregnancy in case I find something which makes me want to alter my plans.
- I found some fitting affirmations (‘I am already a mother. I stand in my power and make decisions from that place.’ & ‘I choose to take control of what I can. I am strong enough to see when to let go.’ are two good ones), then sat in a hot bath and listened to my fear release audio to let everything go!
So despite being confident in my choices Friday has shown me that everyone can be triggered, shaken or worried when challenged by a different view to their own. Even with all I know, read and believe in its almost impossible not to let something creep into the back of you mind when someone else plants that seed. So if it happens to you – don’t worry, its normal!! But know that YOU have the power to bring your feelings back to a good place by working through whatever has been triggered within you. YOU have the intelligence to do your own research to help make decisions about yourself and your baby. And YOU can do this like an absolute Mother!!