As I teach antenatal classes and care for expectant couples in labour and after the birth, I am reminded how important having ‘informed choices’ is for them. It markedly affects how a couple will look back on their birthing experience and early days as a new parent.
What does ‘informed choice’ mean? To me it means firstly listening, then giving accurate, unbiased, clear, relevant information and being respectful of the unique and individual decisions that people make.
I am conscious that I do reflect and draw upon my many years of experience as a midwife, mother and now, grandmother, as I aim to equip and prepare couples through Little Seeds.
However, I also try to ensure that I remain up-to-date. Fortunately, I love learning! It is important that my practice is not just doing things the way ‘they have always been done’. For example, gone are the days (thankfully) of shaves and enemas prior to induction of labour! As Health Care Professionals we also realise the great importance of delayed or ‘optimal’ cord clamping and skin-to-skin contact for babies.
After providing information comes the next vital step; that expectant couples or new parents make choices that are right or best for them. We are all different, everyone has different needs, background, history, expectations. It is not a case of ‘one size fits all’.
For instance, one woman may be keen to have an epidural in labour or a planned caesarian section. For another, a natural, physiological birth may be the aim. What is key are the two steps; the gathering of appropriate and timely information, then moving forward one step at a time, re-evaluating when necessary, and making the choices that are right for that individual person and circumstance.