Giving birth to choice

14. 6NEWS

• Nikki Hunt and daughter Stella. Photo by Jeremy Dixon

BIRTHING horror stories are part of most pregnancies, as friends and family compete to relay the worst of their time in labour.

But expectant mums want to hear the positive experiences of other mothers, Nikki Hunt says.

“Not the horror stories we often hear from our own mothers who experienced childbirth at the height of [medical] intervention—of women in stirrups, drugged to the hilt, forceps, vaccuums—no wonder we are all terrified of birth.”

The hypnobirthing practitioner, and mum of a three-year-old, has set up WA’s first positive birth group, with free sessions at her North Fremantle home. The movement is about information-sharing and informed choice, not promoting a particular birthing choice: “But it does have to be a birth in which a woman feels she has freedom of choice, access to accurate information, and… is in control, powerful and respected,” the UK-based group’s website says.

It kicked off 25 years ago, and now has hundreds of groups worldwide, including the US, Israel, Australia and NZ. The WA branch has been embraced by midwives, doulas and other childbirth educators, and Ms Hunt is hoping the medical fraternity will follow. Her next step is to visit local doctors in the hope they will hand out leaflets outlining the many birthing options available: “When you fall pregnant you go to your GP, it’s where you get information,” Ms Hunt says.

“But expectant mums want to hear the positive experiences of other mothers”

Many women don’t question the information they are given by the medical fraternity, which could explain WA’s high caesarian rate, she says.

Caesarians in Perth are double the World Health Organization standard of 15 per cent, according to an Australian College of Midwives report. Ms Hunt’s advice to women searching for an obstetrician is to ask why the doctor chose that field: “A good answer is because they love birth…not a medicalised response [and talk of surgery].”

But if a caesar is the only option, there are still choices, she adds. To find out what they are, give Nikki Hunt a call, on 0414 544 931.

by JENNY D’ANGER

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