Often times, we have opinions about EVERYTHING and then we get pregnant and become quiet and meek. We let other people make the important decisions we should be making ourselves. Well, mama, you have choices in pregnancy and during birth that you shouldn’t relinquish.
I believe every woman deserves a pregnancy and birth experience that isn’t colored with fear.
So, here is my letter to every newly pregnant mama wondering about her choices during pregnancy and birth.
Dear Newly Pregnant Mama,
Congratulations, pregnancy is a gift. I didn’t always think that it was, but when I heard my daughters heartbeat and felt her move from the inside of me, I couldn’t think of an experience more pure or powerful.
I spent many hours sifting through literature and hanging out in social spaces with other pregnant women. I read and watched birth story after birth story and while the mass majority of what I found was positive, I was shocked by the lack of information and misinformation available to women preparing to give birth, in these social setting.
There’d be comments like:
- “My doctor told me I had to be induced…”
- “I’m not sure that this discharge is normal.”
- “Next week, I have to have my ___ screening.”
- “I heard VBACs are dangerous.”
This is just a few. But the tone is all wrong here. Doctors can make suggestions not mandates and it should not be difficult to find answers to your pregnancy questions.
It makes sense though. We don’t learn very much about the details of pregnancy until we get pregnant.
That learn as we go kinda thing can leave us feeling vulnerable. But before you leave all your choices in someone else’s hands.
I want to tell you a few things that I think will help empower you to embrace your power to choose during your pregnancy and your birth.
7 IMPORTANT THINGS EVERY NEWLY PREGNANT WOMAN SHOULD KNOW
- The Lactation Cookie Guide
- 15+ Highly Recommended Pregnancy Resources
- The Ultimate Breastfeeding Class Review
1. PRENATAL AND BIRTH PROFESSIONALS AREN’T GODS.
Experts – including physicians, nurses, midwives, doulas, and other professionals can have an important role in helping us during pregnancy and birth. But please remember… you are probably the foremost expert on you.
Professionals are not Gods with all the right answers.
In fact, many professionals have opinions and bias (implicit and explicit) that may or may not influence their work, so accepting their opinions as law and blindly following along can leave you feeling disappointed with your experience.
You have a choice in prenatal providers and when you find your team of providers, you still have a right to be part of the decision making that is related to your pregnancy and your body.
If it is your choice to have a medicated birth, unmedicated birth, home birth, VBAC birth. Ensure that you have a team of trustworthy and licensed providers that can support your choice.
|You have a choice in prenatal and birth professionals, choose wisely.|
2. PREGNANCY IS A GREAT TIME TO BE OPINIONATED
Pregnancy is not the time to shut down your inner self-assured boss-babe self.
Often times, we shrink in opinion when we are uneducated and unsure.
Think about it.
What topic are you passionate about and thoroughly educated enough to talk about for hours? When that topic comes up, I bet you glow with confidence. Whether that topic is physics or reality television, you know your stuff!
Well, most women having babies for the first time, don’t have that confidence (yet). We trust word-for-word the care providers and blindly follow a generic system of care designed for profitability and not personalized care.
For many women, going along like this, the result is positive but for others, the experience is disappointing and filled with decisions made in fear or ignorance.
Listen to the professionals, but don’t forget to ask questions, and share your opinion. Prenatal providers are in place to serve (not control) pregnant women like yourself.
|You don’t need to shrink for experts or professionals. Your opinion matters too.|
3. EDUCATING YOURSELF IS ALLOWED
Having an opinion is fine but having knowledge is better.
You are absolutely allowed to educate yourself about your pregnancy or pregnancy in general. I highly recommend that you do.
No matter your perspective, pro-intervention or natural birth fanatic, do your research.
There is more than one way to have a healthy, well-nourished baby, and the way you choose will likely reflect your personal beliefs.
If you are choosing to forego a specific test or procedure, are you able to share your reason with someone who doesn’t understand with details?
I mean it’s one thing to say I’m skipping the X test because it’s stupid. It’s another to say “I’m skipping that procedure because there are health risks and research explains that…”.
Educating yourself is smart. Having clarity on the reasons you are making your choices can leave you empowered and less likely to succumb to outside pressure from naysayers.
PS. There are always people who will disagree with you.
|You are allowed to educate yourself. Just do it.|
4. YOUR PREGNANCY AND BIRTH EXPERIENCE WILL NOT BE LIKE HER EXPERIENCE
I’m so guilty of watching tons of birth videos and reading even more birth stories. I even watched as a woman gave birth with a dolphin echoing her belly; I was like I want that!! (Blame it on the hormones)
My birth wasn’t like those births (no dolphin) and yours probably won’t be either.
Our pregnancies and births are unique as our children. You can have 20 children (I wouldn’t recommend it) and each of the experiences will be different.
So, instead of trying to have a birth like her birth. Use the birth stories to learn and appreciate.
Learn about the circumstances and settings that make you want to have a birth like the one you admire. Is there music? Are there only a few people in the room? Where is the birth?
Those are things you may replicate but the same exact birth isn’t happening for you.
Once you learned from the birth story, appreciate that mom who was brave enough to share her story with you. Lean into those positive vibes and get prepared to have your own life-changing experience.
|Don’t choose her birth experience. Embrace having your own.|
5. YOU ARE INHERENTLY CAPABLE
We all experience self-doubt. I was super-motivated to have an intervention-free birth but there were times when I doubted myself.
I had to remind myself that I was capable. Not just as a woman but as an individual.
We can be our own worst enemy when we believe the negative or self-impeding thoughts about our ability to accomplish something.
Words are power and when you doubt yourself in a well-informed decision, consider using positive affirmations to change your perspective and boost your confidence.
You are capable of birthing your child. It may not happen exactly how you envision it, but don’t choose to not prepare for the birth you want because of a disbelief in yourself.
When I told people I wanted to have my birth naturally, many of them didn’t encourage me. I got stuff like “Girl when you feel those contractions…you’ll want an epidural”.
Many of them told me they tried and ended up requesting the epidural straight away (no shade-it was their choice). You see, if you aren’t careful, others will use their experience to try to predict yours.
Block out the noise.
|You are capable. Believe it with all your might.|
6. YOU CAN SAY ‘NO’
The reality is…most times when we use the phrase ‘have to’, we really don’t have to. This means you can say ‘no’ and ‘decline’ suggestions.
My doctor highly recommended the flu shot while I was pregnant and I declined. I’m not suggesting you do the same. I’m telling you (again) that the choice is yours.
My doctor did her job by telling me why she thought taking the flu shot would be beneficial and my decision to decline left me with the responsibility of my choice. My body, my choice.
So, your prenatal care provider may give you a prenatal schedule of appointments and procedures. It’s our decision to follow along.
- You can decline that test.
- You can say ‘no’ to that procedure.
- You can skip that appointment.
- You can choose not to know your child’s sex (until birth).
There are very few things that are mandated during pregnancy. Which means…you have choices to make.
- What does it mean to decline that procedure?
- Is skipping that appointment going to influence the well-being of you or your baby?
- How does not knowing the sex change how you’ll prepare for the baby?
The thing is…
Although we have choices, it’s essential to be mindful that each choice has a consequence. Let’s try to make choices with the best possible outcomes.
|Your body your choice…but choices have consequences.|
7. TRUST YOUR GUT
I have a good relationship with my gut. I’m talking about my gut health (another post) and my womanly intuition.
When something doesn’t seem right, emotionally or physically, I trust my gut.
- If that means getting checked on a day that isn’t appointment day, do it.
- If that means switching providers, consider it.
- If that means not doing a strenuous task that I did just yesterday, I listen.
Trust your gut and listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right, it may not be right. I’m on the side of getting checked, whenever there is a major or minor concern.
If you are wondering if you should get checked, just talk to your prenatal team.
|Trust your gut. Listen to your body.|
Gosh, this letter hasn’t gotten much longer than I expected. My goal in writing you this letter was to encourage you to get educated about pregnancy, birth, and even motherhood, so that you can make informed decisions that support the health and wellness of your family.
I don’t want anyone to take advantage of your lack of knowledge and it’s better to learn more than you need to know than to not know enough.
There is a time and place to trust professionals and there is a time and place to trust yourself because you are probably the best expert on YOU.
OK. That’s all for now.
If we haven’t already connected socially, follow me on Pinterest and in the comments let me know what choice you wish you knew you could make about a pregnancy or birth procedure that you learned after-the-fact.