Do you want to feel empowered by your pregnancy and birth?
To me, informed decision making is the key to this and, bonus points it to help you feel more in control.
I recommend you always go to your midwife app with at least one question for them to help you get informed.
Not sure where to start? I hear you loud and clear
I recall for the most part of my pregnancy just showing up to my midwife appointments and my only burning question was “is everything OK?”
The first booking in appointment felt to me, more like a police interrogation than anything else and I guess after that, I don’t know. The whole process just felt like I was on a bit of a conveyor belt of wee testing and blood pressure checks so I didn’t ask questions for a LONG time and when I did they were more than happy to fill in the blanks.
There is a saying up north ‘shy bairns get nowt’….But I understand how hard it can be sometimes so I have put together a list of 10 questions to get you started.
Will I have the same midwife throughout my journey?
It might surprise you to learn that the midwives you see and get to know at your appointments may not be the midwives that you see at the birth.
When it comes to the birth itself, there is every chance that you will see different midwives on the shift too. Despite there being all the evidence to back up the amazing benefits of continuity of care for women and their carer, the NHS isn’t currently in the position to support it. The only way to guarantee continuity of care is if you opt for a home birth, work with private midwives, or choose to work with a doula for continuous support.
When can I call my midwife? If I have an urgent question out of hours, who I can call?
This is a great question for your peace of mind and knowing there is ALWAYS someone for you to talk to if you need them. Get the details and save it in you and your partner’s phones.
How can I sign up for the hospital antenatal classes?
Hospitals in the UK usually offer free antenatal classes; they will vary in what’s covered but it’s a great way to get to know the ins and outs for that hospital/birth centre, how they do things there and an opportunity to ask any burning questions you have. Anything from to what pain relief they offer to visiting hours etc and if it’s held on-site you can get a feel for space (see below)
When can I book a tour of the birth centre/hospital?
I ALWAYS recommend this to my hypnobirthing clients; whether they decide to take the hospital antenatal classes or not. First there is the practical stuff. You can check out the facilities, look at what birthing props they have and check out how you can adapt the rooms. Not forgetting logistical stuff like parking etc. Once you have visited you visualise yourself feeling safe and comfortable in that setting which helps to reinforce positive feelings about the place. Not sure where you want to birth? Check out a couple of places and see what feels right for you. You can always have a look at Which for details.
Why are you doing X/Y/Z?
Research shows that when it comes to birth; the more involved you are in the decision-making process. The more likely you are to be happy you are with the outcome. Even if it wasn’t what you wanted. This all boils down to you feeling in control and for me asking questions is imperative to you making informed, confident choices about your care. Confidence is a bit like a muscle. You have to flex it. So start with simple questions in your antenatal check-ups; Like why are you checking my blood/wee etc? That sets you in good stead if you are faced with more challenging decisions later on and need to ask questions then.
How common are births without medical intervention and emergency caesareans?
This is a great question and gives you a good flavour of the hospital’s approach to birth and intervention. You can also check out this great NHS resource to compare local places of birth. Don’t like what you hear for your chosen place of birth? You are within your rights to change. For more information on your rights in childbirth check out birthrights
Can you recommend any local classes or contacts?
If you are feeling anxious or fearful of the birth then your midwife can signpost you to a local hypnobirthing class and they usually will have contacts for other local classes such as pregnancy yoga to support your physical and mental wellbeing.
Are the symptoms I am experiencing normal?
Hands up if you have had some random symptom pop up in pregnancy and consulted ‘Dr Google’ about whether it’s normal or not…..?
I’m guessing that’s 99% of you then.
Although it can be great for peace of mind at the moment. It’s ALWAYS best to mention it to your midwife; even if it’s your next appt. Most symptoms during pregnancy are part and parcel with the hormonal and physical changes and are nothing to worry about on their own, but combined with other symptoms they may be a sign of special circumstances and that you may need additional care.
What support will I receive after the birth?
This might be a question to save as you approach birth. I always think it’s helpful to have a postnatal plan in place and knowing when and you will receive support after your baby is born is useful shit to know!
10 Where can I seek support on breastfeeding both during pregnancy and once my baby has arrived?
Are you keen to breastfeed your baby? If the answer is yes then you there are things you can do beforehand to prepare you and your partner for the experience. Your Midwife should also be able to signpost you to local support if feeding your baby doesn’t get to plan and you can always check out the mindful breastfeeding school for online courses and please don’t beat yourself up if that’s the case. You and your baby are learning together!
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