It doesn’t take long in pregnancy before we can feel bombarded by information and the opinions of others as to what is the healthiest ways of experiencing our pregnancy and birth. Everyone seems to feel that their “way” is the best – everyone from our doctor or midwife to our mother and friends. The truth is that the best way is the way that is decided by you (the woman actually experiencing the pregnancy and preparing to give birth) after researching reliable, scientific based information, processing your personal feelings on what it means to have a healthy and safe birth, and exploring your options for birth through taking a childbirth education class or researching the options on your own. One woman may come to the conclusion that the safest way for her to birth is without drugs at home with a midwife. Another may decide that she would like to be in the hospital to feel secure. And both of those decisions are the best way for that woman.
So, it may appear that the only book you need to fully inform yourself in your pregnancy would be What to Expect When Your Expecting. While it is very popular, and attempts to cover as many topics as may arise for you, it may not give you enough information to make informed decisions about your care. In trying to cover so many topics, there is not the space to devote to thoroughly exploring any one topic.
To begin to know what options are available to you, and to save you time, it is important to first think of how you would like to give birth. Start by thinking of how birth would go if everything were perfectly normal and healthy in your pregnancy and there were no apparent risks in birthing. Then, go from there. Have you considered natural childbirth? Why? Why not? If not, what kinds of medications are you considering for your labor and birth? What are the side effects of those? What care provider will you choose and where do they attend births – what hospital or birthing center? Is homebirth attended by a midwife or obstetrician available in your area? Would you consider birthing at home, if so?
The internet is teeming with information on pregnancy and birth, from websites to blogs, the personal opinions of mothers, women, doctors, midwives, doulas, fathers are not hard to find on just about any topic that could possibly arise during your pregnancy and birth. However, until you have decided what your opinion is and how you would like to give birth, sticking with facts is a good route to go. People use a variety of experiences and information to develop opinions and we all know that opinions are not always factual. It doesn’t mean to disregard the opinions of others, but in pregnancy and birth it is our experience and safety that is the utmost priority. You would not want to base your hopes and dreams on what another feels is best for them.
Amongst opinions going from one extreme to another are websites offering information from a good middle ground. Information that helps mothers make their own choices and to talk with their care providers about those choices. It is fully informed mothers who are involved in making the critical decisions about their pregnancies and births who come away the most satisfied. Below I am listing what I consider to be the best informative websites on the internet for pregnancy and birth when approaching information gathering in this way.
Fact Based Information on Pregnancy and Birth
- Mother’s Advocate - A website providing information on the Six Healthy Birth Practices that are based on scientific research and supported by Lamaze International. This website contains both videos and handouts that are free to the online user.
- Coalition for Improving Maternity Services - CIMS is a non-profit organization of maternal care providers and advocates who research the safest options in childbirth for both mothers and babies. Definitely look at their handout – Having a Baby? 10 Questions to Ask.
- Childbirth Connection - non-profit organization dedicated to providing up-to-date, evidence based information for pregnancy and birth to both mothers and health care professionals.
- Lamaze International for New and Expecting Parents – In going through the process of becoming a Lamaze childbirth educator, I have been increasingly pleased with their approach to educating mother and their families. Using evidence based information, Lamaze is thorough childbirth preparation.
- About.com - Robin Weiss, LCCE (Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator) is the author of these pages. Weiss was my trainer, and she is extremely adept at providing objectively informative writing on the topics of pregnancy and childbirth.
About.com, Lamaze International, and Mothering Magazine all provide great pregnancy/birth newsletters that are sent weekly to your email. These can be great companions to those similar email newsletters that many mothers receive from Baby Center.
These websites are just a start to exploring pregnancy and birth online. There are many online communities, blogs, and informative websites out there, as well as an abundance of printed materials. It is more simple than ever to become an informed mother and to take part in the decisions made for your health and that of your baby. Being that active participant is the key to a more satisfying and healthy experience.
Many happy days to you and yours,