Giving birth is one of the most intense, dramatic and awesome experiences a woman may have. Its also as natural as the baby being born: its not an operation, nor is it a medical procedure. Of course, medical intervention is vital when there are problems. In any normal pregnancy you’re likely to feel fearful and anxious, but you can be confident you’re capable of coping with the physical demands of labour. There’s also a vast range of complementary therapies that can offer natural solutions to many of the difficulties associated with giving birth and can maximise the birthing experience.
The comfort of familiar surroundings makes giving birth at home an appealing option for many women. Home births are largely unsupported by the medical establishment but if you’re a low-risk pregnant woman you can choose to give birth at home without placing yourself or your baby at risk. The World Health Organization has found that home births are considered safe for healthy women. If you do opt for a home birth, its recommended that you enlist the support of a trained midwife. The term midwife comes from two words that mean with woman. An experienced midwife will be there with you throughout the labour. Her supervision, encouragement and advice will help to care for and empower you in your own birthing experience.
If there are any problems she’s there to offer solutions or detect the need for medical assistance if and when required. Generally, midwives who are available to assist at a home birth, or in a birthing centre, have developed confidence in the process, justified by their experience, and are committed to helping you achieve a natural birth. If you do opt for a home birth, your challenge will be to find an experienced independent midwife who can help you through the process. Escalating insurance costs means there are now few midwives able to support home births. For more information, contact the Australian Society for Independent Midwives or Homebirth International Australia.
Birthing centres, which are usually attached to a hospital, provide a compromise for women who want to give birth naturally but still have easy access to hospital facilities. Inside, they’re designed like a bedroom to help you feel more comfortable, and sometimes they come with a spa. You’re encouraged to actively participate in the birthing process and can bring your own support team. The emphasis is on a natural process, but if you call for additional pain relief, nitrous oxide is generally available. Birthing centres are only available for low-risk deliveries. According to hospital rules, if you’re at risk due to health issues or complications that arise during pregnancy, such as malpresentation or being more than two weeks overdue, you will have to transfer to the hospital antenatal clinic.