Mum has the power over trends

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Seeing that little blue line appear on a pregnancy test is the start of an exciting and daunting journey, but before expectant parents can welcome their new bundle of joy there are an often bewildering array of options to be negotiated.

When it comes to deciding how parents would prefer their baby to be born, choosing whether to go through the private or public health system is just the start.

Pharmaceutical versus natural or alternative pain relief options, elective caesarean or low-intervention labour, a step-by-step birth plan or see-how-it-goes attitude, obstetrician or midwife ... hospital versus a birthing centre or ... home birth are all options expectant parents will have to consider ...

Royal Australia and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists vice-president Louise Farrell said women were subjected to trends in birth and child raising just as they were in other areas of life, but it was important for mothers to ask themselves early in the pregnancy what they wanted to achieve.

"There has been a strong move towards reducing intervention into childbirth ...

"People who would like a less medical setting may opt for a home- birth experience ...

... Caesarean sections accounted for about 30 per cent of all births in Australia ...

Private hospitals generally recorded a higher rate of caesarean births than their public counterparts, while just one per cent of births happened in the home.

... midwifery director Margaret Davies said while caesarean rates were increasing, vaginal deliveries remained the most popular option.

Epidurals were perennially popular, but there was a growing trend for women to explore non-pharmaceutical pain relief options.

... water births ... were increasingly in demand by mothers ...

The push for water therapy had seen many hospitals and birthing centres upgrade their facilities ... but parents needed to investigate whether their preferred labour setting had the qualified staff and equipment to offer it as a safe option.

Community Midwifery WA director Pip Brennan said one trend that continued to grow was the desire for continuity of care from pregnancy through to a baby's early months.

... Ms Brennan said regardless of what the current trends were, women had more power than they realised in determining the future direction of birthing policies ...

We live in exciting times where we have so many birthing options available to us. The challenge is to ensure that every pregnant woman is aware of the full range of options available to her: public, private, midwife, obstetrician, birth place, type of birth - and then the all-important preparation for the type of birth she wants.

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