Where you birth your baby is a really big decision. Over the weekend, I met with four newly-pregnant couples who came to ask me about their options for birth and the models of care that were open to them. I was delighted to be seeing them so early in their pregnancies: this is the best time to be asking those tougher questions. Together, we sat and talked through the various options: public, private, which hospital, obstetric care, midwifery care, public models and so on.
Why do we place so much emphasis on where women give birth?
This is because the type of birth a woman has often depends on where she has chosen to birth her baby, and who she has chosen to provide her care.
Where you choose to give birth can influence:
- the environment in which you give birth: clinical environment, home-like environment within hospital, or home
- the options that are available to you for pain relief in labour: epidural, gas, morphine, natural methods of pain relief
- whether you can use water for labour and / or birth (NB: this is different to the availability of baths: some facilities have lots of baths, but labouring / birthing in them is not supported by policy / practice)
- who looks after you during your pregnancy and labour: a midwife you know, who has been chosen by you; a hospital midwife you have never met before; a group of midwives from the hospital whom you may have met during your pregnancy; a hospital doctor whom you have not met before; your own private doctor; or a private doctor whom you have not met before
- how far you have to travel in labour: no travel at all (homebirth); intra-state / inter-state (eg if the birth options that you require are not available in your local area); some travel (eg to a hospital)
- your chance of having medical interventions (these are very unlikely in a planned homebirth, even when transfers are included in the data)
- whether you can access specialist medical care or facilities, anaesthetists, paediatricians, obstetricians
Melissa Maimann is an eligible midwife in private practice in Sydney. One of the first eligible midwives in Australia, Melissa offers a range of care options for women. Visit Melissa's website to learn more about her services.