Depending on her ideas and philosophy about birth, early on in a pregnancy a woman either knowingly or unknowing establishes what is called a “model of care”. For some, this relationship begins even before conception, with many couples today needing medical assistance to become pregnant. Whether it be fully conven-tional, fully alternative or the newer approach known as complementary medicine; whether it be a general practitioner, obstetric surgeon, naturopath or other, most women usually consult some kind of health practitioner to guide them through the changes of pregnancy.
With all the different options of medical health care and insurance packages available today, the choices many women make depend not so much on their needs or best-proven outcomes, but more consistently with their income. Whilst lower income earners and particularly those in rural areas have little choice but to visit a general practitioner, hospital outpatient clinic, community health centre, public hospital labour wards, followed by their dormitory recovery rooms; higher income earners can afford the engagement of a private gynaecologist, obstetrician and eventually a private hospital room. Between these two pathways, is the (solely urban-based) possibility of attending a publicly-funded Birth Centre with their “team midwifery care” and individual recovery rooms or an early discharge. Each of these choices (if they can actually be called that) are fundamental to the unfolding of events many women experience during pregnancy and birthing.
Whilst there are many very caring, general and specialist, women and men doctors, who sincerely aim to guide a woman in the most appropriate management of her pregnancy, there are also some who see the whole situation as something which has a set plan, with set advice, set treatments and set outcomes. Unfortunately, both these styles of pregnancy management can be found in either the public or the private health services, so the kind of medical relationship you form when pregnancy occurs really comes down to who you can afford, or who you can be lucky enough to get.
Irrespective of whether a pregnancy is planned or otherwise, most women like to know for sure, and as soon as possible, if they are pregnant or not. The most commonly accepted first indicator of pregnancy is the missed period. But this may not mean much at the time if the woman has a lengthy or irregular cycle, so sometimes a second month is waited before she can be sure by this method, which can then leave her up to 8 weeks pregnant. But a woman not desiring pregnancy would probably not want to wait that long so they usually go for the quicker confirmation – the over-the-counter urine test.
Whilst the do-it-yourself test does give a fairly accurate indication, sometimes the signs are not clear, so those in a mindset of “I can’t possibly be pregnant” will then go for the third option – the doctor’s or women’s clinic confirmation. This is usually just another urine test with on-the-spot results. Some practitioners may also do an internal and palpation examination to gauge the degree of firmness and swelling in the uterus. On such an occasion, if the result indicates a pregnancy you did not want, you may receive sympathetic and well-meaning advice on “the options”, leading you to make a decision (another medical one, that is termination) right then and there. If the result is confirmation of a pregnancy that you wanted, then the medical wheels start turning and appointments are booked for all the tests you will “need”, the check ups you will “need”, the dietary supplements you will “need”, and the specialist consultations you “might need”. So, with a bag full of all the scary brochures from the waiting room display racks like: How to Prevent Brain Damage to Your Baby When Pregnant, What You Must and Must Not Eat When Pregnant, Dangerous Diseases You Must Not Expose Yourself To When Pregnant, How To Have Great Sex Life After A Vaginal Birth, Why McDonalds Cares For Your Baby’s Health, How Epidurals Help Not Hinder Birth, and Best Buys on Maternity At David Jones – off you go on a whole new medical adventure.