So, you’ve gotten a positive pregnancy test and the journey to motherhood begins. You might be wondering if you’re ready, or how you will know what your baby needs once it is born. You could be wondering how in the world you will be able to sift through all the information you seem to be suddenly in abundance of.
Hands down, the first two most important decisions you will make as a mother, once pregnant, are decisions involving actively doing all you can to keep your pregnancy low risk, and choosing a care provider. Both of these things require educating oneself on the topics and the current research behind the many recommendations you will read or hear. Understand that your choice of care provider for your prenatal care and birth are exactly that – your choice. The care provider you choose can have a huge impact on the mode and outcome of your birth.
Knowing this, the first thing to consider is the type of birth you hope to have barring any circumstances that might make certain medical procedures a requirement. In a low risk pregnancy (and in certain high risk pregnancies) , the mother and anyone else she wants to involve in the decision making are the ones to make that choice based on information she receives or reads. So, whether or not you plan for a natural (med-free, vaginal birth), a medicated birth, or a c-section, is largely up to the mother. (It is questionable whether or not it is ethical to choose to have a c-section birth without medical reasons to do so because of the risks involved to both mother and baby.) Keep in mind that birth is not an illness and is a normal biological process, which makes choices very important. Once you decide how you would like to give birth (after looking at all of your options), the next steps are to know your rights as a pregnant mother. The folks at Childbirth Connection offer a free downloadable brochure called The Rights of Childbearing Women.
Next, look at the options of care providers in your area. In most areas, like here in eastern Kentucky you will have the choice of obstetrician, certified nurse midwife (CNM), and some family doctors, most of whom deliver in hospitals. In some areas of Kentucky and in many other states, women also have the choice of certified professional midwife (CPM) and a direct entry midwife (DEM) who most often attend homebirths. Transition to Parenthood provides a page with a great explanation of the differences between each of these choices.
After looking at a page such as that and deciding what type of provider will be best for the birth you hope to have, you will then want to make appointments to interview potential care providers. The Coalition for Improving Maternity Services offers a tremendously helpful free downloadable brochure containing questions to ask in these interviews. Look for the brochure – Having a Baby? – Ten Questions to Ask. Remember, you are hiring a care provider to perform services for you. Most likely you are not in a desperate medical situation. If you don’t like their answers, you have found different information from reliable resources, or they simply no longer give you a comfortable feeling, it is your right to switch providers or move on to the next interview. You are in control of the situation, and if the services they offer do not fit your needs, then find someone who does. If you question any choices made by your care provider, know you have the right to a second opinion.
You want to be comfortable with the decisions made when the birthday of your baby comes. Birth is not only about a healthy baby and a healthy mom, though that is the ultimate goal, but about creating a lifetime memory associated with the birth of your child. Do you want that memory to be tainted with feelings of fear, disappointment, or disrespect? No. You want to associate that glorious day with elation and sweet beginnings and endings all rolled into one. It is also about resting assured that we have done everything we can to insure the safety of ourselves, our babies, and our future pregnancies, when making choices about possible medical interventions used during our births. We can’t meticulously control how our births will progress, but we can make decisions that will insure that we feel safe, secure, and supported in the process. This will give you the best chance at the best possible birth experience.