After experiencing a “not so ideal” delivery experience with my first child, despite a wonderful and healthy pregnancy, I realized I wanted my second pregnancy and delivery to be something quite different. Several institutions and practitioners in Rome, perhaps Italy in general, tend to deal with the whole pregnancy experience as something quite “medicalized”, where the future mother is not really in charge or even aware of what is happening or what the various options are: stringent visits, endless blood tests, and finally a pretty aggressive labor experience where the future parents are catapulted in a new phase of their lives, the most important one, without having the chance to even voice their concerns or desires.
When I got pregnant with my second child, I was determined to change the course of events, to take my life, my body, and my new child’s life in my own hands and I sought for a more “human” and holistic approach. I wanted for this new pregnancy to be a life experience, a growing opportunity for my family and ultimately I wanted to be in charge of my child’s birth and to enter the postnatal phase fully aware and in touch with my body. Once I realized exactly what I wanted, I was able to find the right people to help me in this endeavor: my Gynecologist and my Obstetrician, my angels so to speak! Wonderful, dedicated professionals with whom I was able to feel completely protected and safe and whom I trusted without reserve. Having the movie-type natal experience is indeed possible, even in Italy where many women still believe that pregnancy and delivery equals medical condition and pain.
When my second child was born my first words to my Obstetrician were: “I am so sorry I was not able to live such a wonderful experience with my first”. But then again, had I not had that experience perhaps I would have never known the difference, I would have never known that a pregnant woman has the right to know all the changes taking place in her body, to make choices, and to be empowered throughout all the pregnancy stages leading to birth and into postnatal care. I hope my experience will help other women feel more confident that the “perfect” natal and postnatal experience exists, one just has to have the courage to voice one’s needs and work towards fulfilling them.