So after my first visit with the midwife, I didn't have anything to do but read the information she'd given me and wait. For a month. It seemed like torture, especially as I read blogs of pregnant Americans who were seeing the doctor, having ultrasounds, and doing all sorts of baby-related things! Not for me. Here in the UK it's just wait and see. At 9 weeks I had my "booking in" appointment, thus named because the main purpose is to "book you in" to the system and decide where you want to give birth.
As I mentioned, this visit took place at our home. I was slightly nervous about this. I felt compelled to bake something. To prove that I was nurturing? Or something? I didn't, which was a good thing as Mandy declined even a tea (a standard offering to all British visitors, including repairmen). Ross said he thought the home visit served as another level of check. The midwife can see what kind of home environment you have and if you are likely to need other services, either before or after the baby comes. It sort of makes sense.
Mandy took several vials of blood and collected my syringe full 'o urine to take for testing. Yep, a syringe. Instead of peeing in a vial and bringing it with me, the midwife provided me with these syringe things. You take the little yellow straw bit and put it on the end of the syringe. Then you pee in a cup, (so now I have 2 cups in my house that I've peed in) and syringe the urine up. Then you remove the straw, replace the cap and snap off the plunger.
Then we went through my green book and filled in the relevant info. There were questions about whether I drink, smoke, or use drugs. Questions about my ethnic background. Questions about my medical history of myself, Ross, and our families. Since all these questions were really straight forward for us, we quickly moved on to the fun stuff...
Where to give birth! With the National Health Service (NHS) there are basically 3 options:
1. A hospital
2. A home birth
3. A midwife-led birth centre
Ross and I already knew that our preference was strongly for one of these options, and after we spoke to Mandy, we were sure. Thankfully, I met all the requirements of being low-risk to qualify for our choice- midwife-led birth centre. I could tell that Mandy was pleased with our choice. She told us that we would be able to give birth (assuming that I stay low risk) at the brand new, birth centre that was only just being completed. We felt good that, by the time we needed it, the centre would still be new and shiny, but would have had enough time to get any kinks worked out.
The reasons we wanted to use the birth centre were:
1. Minimal intervention. It is important to me to have as few interventions as I need.
2. Alternative therapies available. I'm hoping to have a natural, medication-free birth and I believe that the midwives at the centre will help me accomplish this. There will be no option for an epidural (yikes!), but will offer plenty of alternative pain relief including massage and birth pools.
2. A relaxed environment, supervised by women whom I have gotten to know over the course of my pregnancy. The centre should feel less sterile and clinical and more relaxing. There is usually one-to-one care from a midwife throughout the entire birth process. We will most likely have a private room and bathroom.
3. Post-natal care. At a birth centre you are encouraged to stay until you feel ready to go home, rather than getting the boot ASAP like in hospitals here. There is lots of help, particularly with breastfeeding.
4. The centre is connected to our local hospital, meaning that if something goes wrong it would be quick and easy to get transferred.
Where are you giving birth?
What were the contributing factors to your decision?