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How and Why I Created the Early Pregnancy Planning Session.

Let me start with a little story…

It all begins when you find out you’re pregnant. Or perhaps even when you decide to start trying for a baby. You are so happy and excited. You can’t wait to share the exciting news with your family and friends.

You will probably go to your GP for the ‘official’ blood test to confirm that indeed that little stick was correct - you are 100% pregnant!

Your doctor tells you, “Because of where you live you are zoned to this hospital, so you can just go ahead and book an appointment there." Or perhaps even, "You can see me for most of your visits and the just go to the hospital for your last visit - easier for you!" Without even realising, you have now been guided down a particular path of care without any discussion of your other options. Maybe your doctor asks 'Do you have private health insurance?’. If you answer ‘yes' you will more than likely be provided with a referral to a local obstetrician and private hospital - again, you begin your journey down this path without knowing all the options that are available to you.

Perhaps you speak to your sister or best friend, and she says ‘Oh no, you can’t go to THAT hospital! Go here, this is where I went.' So now you begin to doubt your decision. That anxious feeling starts creeping in.

Maybe like many women you are waiting until 12 weeks to announce your pregnancy, and you feel like there is no one you can talk to or ask for advice without sharing your little surprise!

You go along to that first visit at your selected hospital. Amongst checking your blood pressure and organising even more blood tests, the midwife then asks if you would like midwifery led care? Perhaps the birth centre? An epidural? What about antenatal classes? You think to yourself - wow, you’re asking me about the birth already!? I haven’t thought enough about that yet! You pick the option that will hopefully be right for you. Your next appointment is booked and you are sent on your way, wondering if you really made the right choice.

This is how those first few weeks of pregnancy unfold for many women.

Through teaching independent antenatal classes I discovered more and more women who had chosen a particular birth setting or caregiver without really knowing what that meant for their labour, birth and postnatal care. When I get to the part of the course where we discuss the different options available to women in Adelaide there is always at least one woman who says’ Oh I didn’t even know about that! It sounds just like what I wanted’. But often because they are 30 plus weeks, they feel that they can’t change now.

Then there are the other women who tell me that they really want to use a bath for labour because they have read about how beneficial it is for pain relief, yet in the next sentence they mention their hospital which I know from my experience doesn’t offer water birth as an option. This breaks my heart, and I can see the disappointment on their face when they realise that the birth that they have been dreaming about is now out of reach.

I also work with women who are not having their first baby, but have experienced not knowing their options the first time around and know that there is another way. These women are highly motivated to achieve a different, more positive experience than their first and work with me to ensure that they are going down the right caregiver and birth location path for them right from the start. Some have had a traumatic birth, but others have just heard more about their options as their friends have had babies, and they want support to help them choose the best option for their own individual circumstances and wishes.

I see this happening everyday. While working as a midwife in hospitals I have conducted these first visits. I have seen women disappointed and confused when they discover that their hospital doesn’t have a bath when they were dreaming of a water birth. Or women who would love to birth at home in their own surroundings but only find out that this is an option when it is seemingly too late. Or women who have experienced a traumatic first birth and who would do almost anything to avoid experiencing this again.

A few months ago I was chatting with a Hypnobirthing client who was telling me all about the birth that she is planning for this time around, and how she is so much more informed and empowered to achieve a birth that is much calmer and positive than her first. Yes! I am so excited for her. She mentioned her care provider and the fact that she was really interested in labouring in the bath and even a water birth. I quickly realised that the care option she had unknowingly chosen did not offer the option of using a bath in labour. We discussed this further, and she mentioned that she didn’t realise this and asked what her options were. We discussed the various options available to her at this hospital, and straight after we hung up she called the hospital to make an appointment to switch into a different care option - one that she has researched and decided is best for her and what she wants for her birth.

This has made my day. I know it may seem like a really small detail, but trust me - your care providers and birthing environment can play a huge role in you experience, particularly if they are not aligned with your wishes and desires for your pregnancy, birth and postnatal experience.

There is always going to be an ‘unknown’ aspect of pregnancy and birth that we cannot control, but there are absolutely things that you can do to help make the experience as positive as possible with the circumstances that you are given. I am here to help you with this. Through working as a midwife and teaching antenatal classes I have a great deal of knowledge about our maternity system and the different options available to women, and my life coaching skills allow me to assist you in moving forward towards the pregnancy, birth and motherhood journey that you desire.

You may be wondering how this differs from the first antenatal booking/triage appointment that you have at your chosen hospital. At that visit the midwife will discuss with you your options for that particular health service, including shared care, midwifery led units, birth centres, obstetrician care, high risk units, antenatal classes etc. They will also offer you routine blood tests, ultrasounds and screening tests, as well as checking your blood pressure and other important observations. This is fantastic, however at this point you are already ‘one step’ down the path into care in a particular service. My role begins before your first appointment. Before you have even booked into a hospital. This is where we can truly look at ALL of your options - trust me there are many! We will discuss the pros and cons, and I will help you to find the information that you need. Plus, you will have time to really think about what you want for your birth so that you can choose the right option for you.

I am truly so excited to be launching this service to the women of Adelaide. I have spoken to many of you who have told me that this service is incredibly needed, and that it would have made all the difference to your journey. The feedback I have gained so far has been so positive. Every step of the way when working behind the scenes on this I have had your feedback at the forefront of my mind, it really has been a collaborative effort! So thank you for helping me bring this to life.

I’m so excited to work with even more of you! Remember that I am offering a special introductory price for the Early Pregnancy Planning Session. Places are limited, please get in touch if you would like to book your session! For all the details click here.

P.S. Even if you're not currently planning a baby, please share this with any friends or family who you think would benefit from this service. You never know how much of an impact this may have on their experience!

Hannah x

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