What the “birth choices” reform has meant to me

As of 1st July this year Nicola Roxon’s “birth choices” reform came into effect. These reforms have been widely touted by the government as offering women more choice in their maternity care. Sounds good huh? Pity it doesn’t work in practice.

When we first discovered this pregnancy we were planning on freebirthing with 2 doulas in attendance. Then we discovered we were having twins and everything changed. We wanted to continue to plan a homebirth, but with a midwife in attendance. Sadly, thanks to the political situation that has arisen with “birth choices” there were/are no midwives in our state willing to take on a twin pregnancy. Actually, there was 1 that has attended twin homebirths previously (quite successfully) but thanks to all the politics she is currently fighting to continue practicing midwifery at all.

There is a wonderful midwife in Adelaide who was willing to take us on, but that would have meant travelling late in pregnancy, away from my support network of family and friends. It was also likely to mean a period of seperation from my husband as he would have had to continue to work. As much as we would of liked that option to be a realistic option, financially and logistically it just wasn’t possible.

So we reluctantly turned to hospitals. I was refered to both the major tertiary hospital in my state and our local hospital. The major tertiary hospital was already talking about induction and caesars at my first appointment at 12 weeks, there was a list a mile long that needed to be checked off before a vaginal birth would be “allowed” (presenting twin must be head down and of bigger than or equal size to the second twin, epidural mandatory “just in case” and I probably would have needed to be able to tap dance on the ceiling). The local hospital were happy to aim for a vaginal birth as long as the presenting twin was head down. So that’s the option we went with.

You’ve already heard about the saga of the caseload midwife so I won’t repeat that. And as you know I was off for a scan on Friday to check the position of the presenting twin (our baby A). Both babies appear to be doing beautifully, growing well, healthy, all those good things. Only problem is baby A is breech. And baby B is sitting on his head, so there is not a lot of space for baby A to turn. We have an appointment today with an obstetrician (no idea which one I’ll see anymore thanks to evil caseload midwife I now get whoever happens to be free at my appointment time, yay for continuity of care) and we know we are likely to be pushed towards a caesar.

I’m 34 weeks pregnant today, I’m tired, I’m sore and I’m very much over it. I should be disappearing into my cave, nesting, preparing my home and myself for birth. Instead I’m gearing up for a fight, a fight to birth my babies the way I choose. I’m researching, I’m focused on numbers and percentages and arguments when I should be focused on relaxing and enjoying these last days.

So Nicola Roxon, I take my hat off to you, thank you so much for your wonderful “birth choices” reforms, the level of “choice” I have had in my care has been astounding. Our experience of care in the hospital system has truly been remarkable and I’m so glad that this “system” is being forced upon all women whether they choose it or not. My body, my babies, my right to choose Nicola. I am furious that something called “birth choices” has in fact taken away my right to choose.

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