FAQs on Birth Choices

How do I get continuity of care in a WA hospital? Options are currently limited within WA. The Community Midwifery Program provides a domino option for low risk women who seek midwife-managed, one-on-one community-based care but want to birth in hospital. For more information, see the Domino Birth on the CMP FAQ.

How do I know my health provider will give me the care I want? Take some time to discuss your needs with your health care provider.  Don’t be afraid to shop around.  Feel free to call our midwife on 9498 6033 to discuss your concerns.  Read up and make sure your decisions are informed.

What is the difference between a midwife and an obstetrician? By definition midwives are experts in the provision of care for women experiencing “normal” healthy pregnancies, births and early postpartum periods, and in the detection of abnormalities and appropriate referral. Midwives look at birth as a normal life event, and focus on forming a partnership with the woman and her family. Midwifery generally takes a holistic approach underpinned by a philosophy that pregnancy, labour, birth and breastfeeding may require ‘support’ to facilitate the normal rather than ‘intervention’ to prevent the abnormal. A midwife’s approach to birth is ‘unlucky if something went wrong’.

By definition obstetricians are medical doctors who are experts in caring for women experiencing ‘abnormal’ or complex health issues in pregnancy, birth and the early post partum period.  Obstetricians have many years of specialist training to manage the complexities that can arise for women during the journey into parenthood.  They have the expertise to do ceasarean births and other surgical requirements, and are familiar with pregnancy-related illnesses and conditions.  An obstetrician generally regards labour and birth as risky, or only ‘normal’ in retrospect.  Many commonly believe that women are ‘lucky if nothing went wrong’.

Where can I have a waterbirth in WA? You can birth in water at home, at the King Edward Memorial Hospital’s Family Birth Centre, at Fiona Stanley Hospital and at Armadale Hospital. In a hospital environment, however, your ability to birth in water depends on factors such as whether a bath or birthing pool is available and whether there is a waterbirth-qualified midwife present. If waterbirth is not available at your hospital – ask.

Why do I need to birth in a place that feels safe? You’ve probably heard about the hormone adrenalin which initiates our protective mammalian fight or flight response. What you may not know is that adrenalin plays a role in the birth process. If a birthing mother stops feeling safe, a flood of adrenalin through her body may slow her labour or even bring it to a complete standstill.  This instinctive response would have helped to protect our nomadic ancestors from wild predators, enabling a birthing woman to interrupt her labour and seek safety.

Choosing a birth option that maximises your sense of security is one of the most important things you can do to ensure that your labour progresses well.  Both who you have with you and the place where you choose to birth are key in this decision.

Why have a midwife? A midwife is a registered maternity health professional who specializes in normal pregnancy and birth. Midwives are qualified to care for the majority of women throughout the childbirth experience, providing all antenatal care, care in labour and birth, and postnatal care up to six weeks after the birth. The World Health Organisation recognizes that ‘Midwives are the most appropriate primary health care provider to be assigned the care of normal birth’. Midwives view childbirth as a normal healthy life event that encompasses, influences and is influenced by the mental, physical and spiritual aspects of the woman and those of her partner and children.” The Maternity Coalition Inc.

Why make your own birth choice rather than let someone else choose for you? A positive, empowered, informed birth experience is likely to leave you with a sense of pride, satisfaction and well-being, and a greater connection with your baby.  An uninformed, disempowered birth experience, in which your expectations are not met, can leave you with a sense of disappointment and dissatisfaction, a fear of future childbirth, and put you at risk of post traumatic stress or other mental and emotional health difficulties.  It is therefore vital for expectant couples to research their birth choices in order to increase the likelihood of receiving adequate support and guidance throughout pregnancy, birth and early parenting.