Friday, December 11, 2015

What you forget when you're expecting.

Pregnancy is an exciting time, especially when it's your first. There's so much to learn and think about, so many new things to buy for the nursery, and some personal time to reflect on the little miracle growing inside of the mother's body. 

But it can also be a stressful time, a time of uncertainty and lots of questions. Many parents feel that the pregnancy, the birth of their child, or both, turned into a nightmare. Upon hearing their stories, most of the unfortunate happenings had bad repercussions because the parents were caught off-guard. 

Here are some things to consider to keep both your pregnancy and birth experience as positive as possible!

Choose your physician wisely

Most of the stressors that occur during pregnancy are the result of choosing a physician who’s not on the same page as you are. Generally, you have three types of physicians to choose from depending on the type of birth/birth location you prefer/need: an OB/GYN (hospital), a Midwife (home birth or birthing center), and a Nurse-Midwife (practices midwifery but works in a hospital).

Once you know which type of birth you’d like, you’re not done choosing a physician yet. Call around to the hospitals/birthing centers to find out where your potential physician stands on the pregnancy topics that matter to you the most. 

Also, if you're halfway through your pregnancy and realize that your physician isn't what you thought he/she'd be, don't feel bad in leaving that one for someone whose ideals align better with yours.

On that note…

Educate yourself

Just a generation ago, accurate information about pregnancy was hard for the general public to access. That is not the case today. I am truly amazed at how much expectant parents don’t actually know about (1) the important things to consider during pregnancy and (2) what’s going on inside the female body. There are plenty of sites with valid information about each phase of pregnancy, what should be happening, warning signs if something’s not right, and what to do about it. 

Birthing instructors are great to have, but they are supposed to help you prepare for the birth itself, not every little thing that could happen in-between. The more educated you are, the less you'll worry.

Here are some accurate places to go to learn about pregnancy: BabyCenter, Inside Pregnancy VideosMayoClinic

Remember that your birth plan has not been ratified by the Fates

Please, have a birth plan. It’s a great way to keep your thoughts organized and make sure that both you and your physician are on the same page. (You can see a general one here.) But please remember that it's just that: a plan. Plans can change. In fact, you should have more than one birth plan. I’ll suggest 3: "Picture-Perfect", "Mild Complications", and "Worst Case Scenario."

For more information about the importance of a birth plan, click here to read what experienced professionals have to say. Believe me, it's worth it.

Stop internalizing everyone’s stories

I know moms who will only give birth in the hospital because they know of too many home/birthing center experiences gone bad.

I know moms who will only give birth at home or in a birthing center because they know of too many hospital births that didn’t contribute to a happy experience for the mother.

Everyone knows a bad birthing story or two. Just do what you feel is right.

Remember that people tend to make your pregnancy their pregnancy

Have a name chosen? Don't think that everyone won't want to weigh in on if it's their business, I know. But they will. 

Don't want the world to show up right after the baby is born (or during labor)? Make sure people know. 

Is it your first and you're having a girl? Don't tell someone who has strong feelings about the first always being a if you can just choose, I know.

Some of the things that come out of people's mouths about your pregnancy will astound you. Just prepare for it, because it will happen at least once.

Don’t be afraid of the hospital 

Natural and drug-free births are by no means a new thing. Many couples see birth as a truly empowering experience. However, with the good intent of empowering, women are being told that "interventions will make your birth experience less meaningful”, "there's never a reason for a healthy pregnant woman to need a c-section", and “those little hospital monitors will ruin everything.” 

Feeling empowered and confident is good! Learning about and preparing for the birth you want is good! However, just like no one expects to get sick right before vacation, the reality of life is that birth complications can--and do--happen, even to the healthiest of women. One of the biggest problems you'll bring upon yourself is losing sight of what matters most: the safe arrival of your child. Regardless of where you choose to give birth, learn from an objective source about what’s available in case something goes wrong so that you don’t have to be afraid/suspicious of it.

There are pushy people everywhere

Generally, both hospital staff and midwives are there to help you have a positive experience. But guess what? There really are some very pushy nurses out there. And guess what? There are some very pushy midwives as well. Don’t lump everyone into one category.

Don’t focus so much on the birth that you forget to prep for life post-birth.

Parents spend so much time mentally and emotionally preparing for "the birth experience" that they aren’t adequately preparing (mentally and emotionally) for the first year after the birth; regardless of how experienced you are with children, you are not ready to parent your own. Parenting your own children comes only from experience...with your own children. The best thing you can do is start reading up on what to expect and how to handle it, because you’re going to need it.

Now it's your turn, moms and dads: What do you wish you would have known or done to better prepare for your child's birth?


  1. "Remember that your birth plan is not ratified by the Fates" should probably be "Birth never goes as expected". I've had three very different birth experiences, all at home. What is most important for me to remember is to have faith, not fear. Birth can be scary because it is so intense.

    I think that understanding a range of stories helps when you are making decisions. It helps to know what empowers you and how to avoid obstacles to your successful outcome. It also helps to reflect on your past birth experiences and know what will best help you in the future. So, I think stories are important--it's how we share, bond, heal, and move forward.

    Birth is amazing because it is empowering. I thought I had done amazing things before I gave birth, but when I did give birth, I looked at my new little cherb and felt the most overwhelming, "This is the most perfect thing I have ever done". It is easy for health professionals at the most vulnerable time in a woman's life to take away empowerment. It's a slippery slope. What I appreciate most about giving birth at home is my autonomy. I'm where I am most comfortable and only allow people to be there that I know and trust.

    With this, I realize that I have transferred one son to a hospital, and he spent and unexpected 8 weeks in the NICU, with two surgeries. Hospitals can be life-saving and necessary. I'm still negotiating the balance between autonomy and seeking out the best wisdom for that son because it is not always respected.

    Birth helped prepare me for motherhood in a visceral way. I came to understand powerfully how precious life is and how hard motherhood would be. As hard as pregnancy and childbirth are, motherhood is harder.

  2. Jimmy Bean adds that you don't have to buy as much for the nursery as most people think, and emphasizes how important the "post-birth" stuff is. You have to be sure that Mom, Dad, and baby are all taken care of.

    Also, "cherb" should be "cherub".


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