We spoke with Bianca King, entrepreneur and mother, about her birth experience and preparing for the unexpected.
Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself and your pregnancy?
I am first and foremost a wife and dog mama. I was an actress for 15 years and model for about 20 years in the Philippines before moving to Sydney in 2020. Currently, I create digital content for brands in Asia, the US and Australia while modelling. I most recently ran an e-commerce site I co-owned but gave up in March 2022 to focus on conceiving. Quitting a stressful work environment worked for me and I conceived within 3 months! After trying for quite some time with no success and on the verge of doing IVF. My pregnancy so far has been free of complications. I did have a tough first trimester with all day nausea locking me to my bed. Now in my third trimester, the weight and belly size are slowing me down!
How informed and supported did you feel heading into this pregnancy?
I felt somewhat supported by the medical professionals I engaged with from fertility to my second trimester. But the gaps in the system are evident. I am very inquisitive so doing my own research came naturally when I felt there was something missing.
For one, I was not screened for my nutrition, mental health and overall well-being when investigating my fertility. I went through the typical tests to see where my eggs and fertility were at but there wasn’t much counselling on what I could change in my lifestyle. I wrote about it and some of the steps I took to increase my chances of conceiving on my blog.
When I went to a GP right after my positive pregnancy test, I was told there were no good obstetricians in the Southern Highlands, where I’m currently based, and I’m better off driving 90 minutes to a private hospital in Sydney. For every single antenatal visit and birth! Knowing what I do now, this is terrible advice for the weeks leading up to birth and especially during labour. By week 18, I was fed up with the travel and sought other options. I was not informed what my options are for care – that I could see excellent midwives at a public hospital, could have a non-medical or physiological birth at a birth centre, or I could hire an extremely skilled private midwife for a homebirth. I learned about all of this through my own research, also prompted by an average chemistry with the OB I had been seeing. I must note that these care providers I was seeing are excellent in their fields. But I personally was not feeling with their style and was seeking something else.
I understand you decided to change model of care mid-pregnancy, what prompted this change?
I felt the meetings with the OB were too quick, not enough education and not enough discussion about my experience. I was seeking more time and closer attention to my individual needs. I was confused by the mention of induction (without an explanation) so early in my second trimester. That’s what prompted my deep dive into spontaneous labour and physiological birth.
I started listening to podcasts, watching birth documentaries and asking friends and women on social media to share their birth stories. The common vibe I got was that (just about) everyone who had a homebirth had an amazing, empowering experience and a handful of women had traumatic medicalised births with some of them feeling coerced to stray so far from their birth preferences.
On my 18th-20th week, I sought a different type of care – more psychological, emotional and spiritual – that was more suited to the type of person I am, and this was with a private midwife. The physical care for an uncomplicated pregnancy is just as good, if not better, as it’s more woman-centred.
What challenges did you face along the way and how did you overcome them?
It was a mad dash to find a private midwife who would take me mid-pregnancy as everyone was booked! But I didn’t give up and found someone. Another challenge was getting my husband on the same page. It is a frightening thought to think of your wife birthing at home, drug-free, when the media and society has moulded us to think that birth can only happen safely in a hospital with an OB directing. I am fortunate how open he is to watching documentaries and listening to podcasts with me. We also did a face-to-face hypnobirthing course. He eventually understood how safe an environment our home is with a private midwife for a natural, oxytocin-filled birth, how that benefits my and our baby’s well-being, and how he can support me with the tools he learned from hypnobirthing. He now lights up when he talks about home birth to other people like it’s the greatest birth invention.
What have you learnt from this change?
Pregnancy and birth education should begin on week 1 of finding out you are pregnant. As this helps navigate what sort of care is right for your individual needs. With education comes confidence to immerse in your unique pregnancy journey, flex your autonomy and trust that your body is built to birth.
What resources have you found helpful so far that you could recommend to other future mums?
Podcasts like Birthful, The Midwives' Cauldron and The Great Birth Rebellion. Definitely watch The Face of Birth and all the expert videos on the website, Why Not Home, The Business of Being Born, Birth Time, The Milky Way and Microbirth. For books, read Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering and Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth. I also watch the Youtube videos of Doula Bridget Teyler. I recommend starting the podcasts and movies the moment you find out you’re pregnant. I always had a podcast going while cooking, going on walks and tidying the house.
How do you now feel approaching birth for the first time?
Excited and confident! I feel like I’m throwing a house party. I keep thinking of the food I’m going to spread out in the kitchen and the flowers I’m going to decorate around my birth pool. I welcome all the feels and pains as a rite of passage. And I will do everything I can to give my baby the best outcomes – even if it means going to the hospital and getting a C-section if that’s what we all deem is necessary.
What’s your best advice for expecting mums who don’t know where to start?
For everything your care provider says that you don’t fully understand or agree with – ASK WHY. Ask for data and statistics. Don’t hesitate to ask women about their experiences and balance it out with medical and non-medical stories. If you’re not satisfied with your current care, you deserve better and have the right to change course at any time.