Yasna Meldrum (midwife and counsellor): One of the questions that parents-to-be often ask is: how will I know when I need to go to hospital, and how will I get there? Generally speaking, there is enough warning and there are enough signs and symptoms there or little hints that things are beginning to happen. You might be close to your due date, or you’ve talked about it in some of your appointments. I think it’s important to remember that whichever way you are planning to get there, that you are prepared ahead of time.
Yasna: So usually your own car or, in an emergency, an ambulance certainly would be appropriate. However, if you don’t have ambulance cover you will be charged quite a fee for that call-out. You can always ring the maternity hospital or your midwife that’s caring for you, and they can also be your guide as to when is it time for me to actually go into hospital.
Yasna: If you have other children, planning for the care of the other children when you actually are in labour and giving birth. It might be your partner that needs to be home caring for the children. Think of who else would be your best support person during labour and birth and that might be your mum, or it might be your partner and your mum might like look after the children. So that’s the sort of planning that’s required: what’s going to happen to the other children? How are we going to do this so that I’m getting support at the same time as the children are being cared for too?
Yasna: In terms of who can be around when you’re having a baby, it will depend on the setting. If it’s a home birth for instance, then the number of people that you have at your birth really is up to your discretion. It’s really a good idea not to have too many people because that can sometimes hinder your progress. So have the people there who are going to actually be a support to you and that you feel comfortable with. In a hospital setting, there generally is a limit as to how many people can be in a birthing room. There’s the limit of the physical space, and also again it’s not conducive to have too many people in the room. So maybe having your partner, if you have one, maybe a close friend, or a mother, or a sibling, your sister, or a few people. Generally speaking, 2 or 3 people is about enough people to have in a birth setting.
Moe (mother of Mangtong, 2 years, and Kohoe, 9 months): My husband was at the birth.
Farshad and Maryam (parents of Melika, 16 months)
Maryam: My mother and Farshad were with me during the birth and if we were in Iran, Farshad wouldn’t have been able to be at the birth and he got to experience the whole birth and cut the cord and I think he will remember that ...
Farshad: A special experience, yeah.
Maryam: ... especially for me, that he was able to be there, yeah.
Yasna: I think one of the lovely things about giving birth in Australia is that over the past couple of decades we have very much embraced fathers into the birthing scene. So partners are very much encouraged to attend antenatal appointments for instance, antenatal classes, certainly the birth if they want to, and very much also encouraged to participate in the after-care. Partners are invited to attend all childbirth education classes and they are embraced in the birthing suite. They are very much cared for as well as the mother. For some dads, I think that comes as a real surprise because I don’t think they’re expecting that they’re going to be seen as a unit, and as an integral part of that pregnancy and birth.
Farshad: I think my presence was kind of support for Maryam. So yeah, I was happy to help her out through the labour.
Yasna: Certainly from my personal experience, fathers have very much enjoyed that involvement. I think it sets them up for a very positive start with their baby in terms of the bonding as well.