As soon as you announce you are pregnant, the stories and discussions will start rolling in. Stories about the gynecologists who schedule cesarean sections according to golf tee-off times, who coerce women into c-sections, epidurals, and episiotomies; hospitals that tell you to labor faster to fit into their procedures and timetables; and midwives who push so hard for you to birth naturally that they refuse to call the gynae and cause long-term damage to you and baby: whatever the truth behind each story, the mother is always painted as a hapless victim forced into a birth she does not want, and is then judged for it by friends and family, and by herself.
According to Dr. Peter Koll, a specialist obstetrician, “Recent research shows that postnatal issues such as breastfeeding difficulties, bonding and relationship problems, and depression are related more to the birthing experience than the method of birth. In other words, if a woman considers herself an involved part of the birthing experience – whether vaginal or c-section – she is less likely to develop postnatal problems.” So the best way to make sure that these stories do not become a reflection of your own birth story is to empower yourself, stop blaming the system or your caregiver, make the choices that are right for your child, and you – and be involved in your birth. Here is how.
CHOOSE YOUR CAREGIVER WITH CARE
One of the key elements to a positive birth is trust, not just trusting yourself, but also trusting your caregiver. In order to trust your caregiver, you need to believe that they not only have the medical expertise to carry you and your baby safely through pregnancy and birth but also that you both share the same vision or philosophy of birth. Remember, just because your gynae has been your doctor since you were 16, does not mean they are the right person to see you through pregnancy and birth. Do your research, ask friends and family about their caregivers, and interview your own caregiver. You can ask questions such as the following ones:
Why did you become a gynae?
If you are not on a call or are delivering another baby, who will deliver my baby?
If I call with routine questions between visits, how will you handle them?
What is your policy on informed decision-making by parents?
How much time do you normally spend with mothers in labour?
What views do you hold about professional labor assistants such as doulas?
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