Get your midwife on your team!
Despite what ‘One Born Every Minute’ would have you believe, midwives do a hell of a lot more than ‘drink tea all day’! (so turn it off!) They are the ‘guardians of normal birth’. So it always surprises me that in hypnobirthing, healthcare professionals are often presented as ‘the enemy’, someone you have to ‘battle’ with to get what you want. But, it’s so not the case!
Working in a maternity department has meant I’ve supported many women through their labours and births, and seen the circumstances under which everything goes ‘well’ and the circumstances under which sometimes, things go awry- and this is something that all midwives are acutely aware of. Midwives are very adaptable creatures, they can be the laughing, chatting midwife for the anxious mum birthing with an epidural, or blend into the background for the hypnobirthing mum, immersed in her own bubble- all the while quietly observing, supporting and keeping an eye out for any problems. I for one, have been both these and everything in between. And it doesn’t take an assertive woman, or an aggressive partner to get what you’re after- the key to getting the most out of your midwife or healthcare team, is getting them on your team! But how?
Know what you want. And know that it’s ok to change your mind. Do your research before you go into labour, know what your options are and how they may or may not affect you. But also know, that you’ve never birthed THIS baby before, follow your instincts as you go and you won’t go far wrong.
Write it down. Call it a birth plan, birth preferences, letter to your midwife, whatever! There’s a saying amongst medical professionals that ‘if it’s not written down, it didn’t happen’, so follow their lead. It doesn’t have to be formal- if anything it’s probably better if it’s not! Keep it short and sweet and mention what’s most important to you first! (Just in case they don’t have time to read it all).
Give them the plan/letter/preference sheet.. I can guarantee they won’t find it if it’s tucked away in your notes somewhere. Keep it separate, make it obvious. If you’re at home- leave it next to the biscuits!
Tell them you’re hypnobirthing. This one is particularly important for the ‘phone call’, where its often presumed labouring mums aren’t that ‘far along’ because they are coping so well with their surges.
Demonstrate. If she’s chatting away and laughing but you would prefer silence, spend time being quiet (don’t ignore her completely, that’s unlikely to help!). If she’s silent, but some low level chit chat would make you feel at ease, then go for it.
Ask questions. If you’re faced with a decision during your labour, that you hadn’t expected or considered, ask for the information. Midwives will be more than happy to make sure you have all the information you need before making a decision, if you need time to decide or just a moment to yourselves, ask for it. There’s not much in labour that can’t wait 10 seconds or 10 minutes.
Meet her half way. Midwives are bound by a lot of guidelines and hospital protocols, and whilst everything is your choice and she will provide you with information to make these decisions, understand where she is coming from. A good midwife will support you in any choice that you make, whether it is her recommendation or not- and often stand up for you situations where you may feel pressure to change your mind, so you definitely want her on your side!
Take your hypnobirthing prompt list! The list of questions or requests to gently ask for the kind of care you need as a hypnobirthing mum. In my experience, you probably won’t even need to use them, but know that they are there if you do.
If you’ve tried all of the above and still don’t feel comfortable, you can always ask for a new midwife. Yes, even midway through labour. (The best way to do this is to head to the main desk and ask to speak to the coordinator or midwife in charge- be polite, but be firm.)
Say thankyou. Believe me when I say, we are as emotionally involved in this as you by the end. 12 hour shifts are long and they are hard, but the privilege of being a part of the moment you become a family makes it worth it. No doubt she will shake her head, thank you back and say it was all down to you. She means it.
Happy Birthing Mama. You’re going to be INCREIDBLE.