Cordeaux Heights mum Jess Holliday, who was one of the six women who appeared at last week's Wollongong public hearing, has acknowledged that the NSW birth trauma inquiry will be difficult for anyone who is pregnant.
However, she said she also hoped the widespread discussion about the issue would give others the tools to avoid it.
"I feel for people who are pregnant now because it is almost almost inescapable that you are going to see stories about the inquiry," she said.
"Especially with the algorithm, if you're googling things about pregnancy and then there's news articles about pregnancy in your area."
Ms Holliday shared her experience of being labeled high risk during her pregnancy two years ago because of her body mass index (BMI), which meant she was only able to access care through a "revolving door of obstetricians".
She said she faced "humiliation and shame" as well as contradictory information from the doctors until she found out about the existence of private midwives and used her savings to pay for one to have a home birth.
She told the inquiry that after attempts from doctors to scare her into following their instructions, she listened to her midwife and her own instincts to have a home birth, with her son born healthy at 3.6kg in June 2021.
Looking back at her experience, said she would advise women pregnant now to trust their instincts, and to speak up for themselves during pregnancy.
"You don't have to do everything that you are being told, and you can weigh up all your options and ensure that you listen to yourself," she said.
"It might sound woo woo, but my intuition was what saved me from having a traumatic birth."
Ms Holliday said she had had a huge response after speaking up over her treatment during her pregnancy at the September 7 hearing, and was confident things would start to change as more women share their stories.
She also said she had appreciated the public apology from the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District.
"I was surprised to get an apology at the inquiry and it felt very meaningful," she said.
"I've had women reach out to me to say 'I was experiencing this or, oh I'm pregnant now and I've been so worried about what they've been saying about my body'," she said,
"So it's a good thing we're getting the word out that there is another way to do this, that you are not the only one experiencing these things, and it is definitely giving the power back to women."
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