Your pregnancy, your midwife, your choice

Pregnancy

07 Apr

How important is the pregnancy journey?

Pregnant with my second child I didn't hesitate to return to One to One and was excited about getting my antenatal journey underway. Talking to pregnant women and mums I've met since having my first child, I have been shocked that 'The Birth' seems to be all people talk about; where, how long, how traumatic etc. I actually felt a bit shy about saying mine was a wholly positive experience which even straight afterwards I had no anxiety over the thought of repeating.

I feel that it’s the pregnancy journey that gets really overlooked by mums talking about their experiences. You carry your child (some breeze through it and some really struggle) every day and night for 9-10 months. They remind you of their presence with their little nudges and turns for over half of the length of your pregnancy and yet all the attention is focused upon the relatively tiny period of time it takes for baby to be born. I get it, I know it’s the main event and what every mum to be is waiting for but it still shocks me that the care you receive in the year leading up to it is forgotten. For me this was one of the highlights of being with One to One.

Granted, I have nothing to compare it to. I have been pregnant twice and used One to One as my maternity provider from booking at 8 weeks both times and so I haven't sampled the antenatal care provided by my local NHS trust. However I have been shocked when friends tell me of their experience (which they have also found positive). They sit in clinics waiting for their 15-minute appointment and if they're very lucky they see the same midwife a few times - sadly though they know that this person is unlikely to be present at their baby's birth. All the necessary checks and tests on mum and baby are done and they are sent away until next time. There is nothing wrong with the care they get at all. In fact it is the national model we feel lucky to have, free and accessible to all.

However my experience could not be further from this. I wait at home for my lovely midwife who I see at all my appointments to come. She is so flexible with her availability so that my husband is able to be there at every appointment and that he, in his hugely important role as Dad-to-be, is also included and involved. We are treated as a family unit from booking. His role is valued even if that means that appointments take place of an evening or weekend. I am shocked by how many fathers are excluded from hearing the tiny heartbeat for the first time as it happens at a pre-allocated time in the middle of a weekday where their employer doesn't have any legal obligation to allow them to attend.

When I ask my friends how on earth they manage to get through all the information and their questions within the 15 minute appointment, they say that it is a bit of a rush. My appointments with One to One are always a minimum of an hour over a cuppa where I am able to ask all my (sometimes stupid) questions and where more importantly I get told lots more info than I could ever get off parenting websites about what is happening with the tiny life inside of me. Also as my midwife gets to know me, she knows what type of things I'd like to know, what my own concerns are and how I cope with those strange pregnancy related things that happen to us all. This is one of the key things of being with One to One which you just sadly don't get with the local community midwife team. My midwife knows ME. Not as a pregnancy statistic. Not as a 'risk factor', but as a pregnant woman. She knows what is normal for me.

When you've had your baby you get advice (wanted or not) every way you turn, all conflicting and all ultimately pointing to the fact that every baby is different. If this is the case then every human is different. Every pregnant woman is different. So why oh why are we all expected to fit into the same structured version of maternity care and labour? Having a professional clinician who knows my ‘normal’ and me seems like the most logical, natural thing in the world. We build that relationship over the whole pregnancy with more frequent visits and checks as the pregnancy advances. As 'The Birth' approaches unlike so many of my friends, I feel calm and collected about what will happen, the fact that I am in control and have the right and confidence to question everything that may happen wherever I choose to give birth. For me because of the fantastic antenatal care, birth is something to look forward to and embrace as I am fully informed about what happens and how to make the process as smooth and comfortable as possible. It is one of the most powerful things a woman can ever go through and yet sadly for so many women it is one of the situations where they feel most powerless and out of control as a stranger takes the control of their birth. Being with One to One empowers you as a parent, both as a mother and a father.

This is the reason I chose One to One.

So many people think that One to One is just about the Home Birth. Home Birth happens because you feel confident, in-control and empowered to make your own decisions and be in your most safe and comfortable environment to bring your child into the world. Ultimately though, I know my One to One Midwife will support me in whatever decision I make about where and how to give birth with no judgement or negativity. It really doesn't matter what your birth plan is or how you intend to deliver. The care you get throughout your entire pregnancy and in those first 6 weeks postnatally is what makes One to One such a fantastic option.

People often ask 'what’s the catch? It sounds too good to be true'. I’m almost at the end of my second One to One pregnancy and I've not yet found it.

Post by Louise, One to One service user.

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