I recently saw a post on Facebook that stated most women spend an average of 11 hours per week planning and preparing for their wedding in the last 3 months leading up to the big day. That is a staggering 132 hours! For most women, no detail is left to chance. Everything is planned to within an inch of its life, including what to do if it rains unexpectedly at an outdoor venue.
The next most memorable day in your life will be the birth of your first child.
How much time will you spend planning and preparing for the next most memorable day of your life?
Surprisingly, what I am seeing more and more of these days is women finding out that they are pregnant and immediately handing their power over to a medical system who, although their top priority is safety, are erring on the side of caution. Decisions are made based on liability anxiety and not necessarily on what is best for you as an individual. Your choices as a woman will not necessarily be honored.
The bottom line of all of this is that we have to take responsibility for our pregnancy and birth – the same way that we took responsibility for ensuring that our wedding day was the way that we wanted it. Not the way that the wedding planner or your mother or mother in law wanted it, but the way that you wanted it. The way you dreamed of it as a little girl.
So how do you want your pregnancy and birth to be? Have you even thought about it?
It goes without saying that your health and the health of your baby are top priority but what will you do to ensure that is the priority of the care provider you choose?
Here are what I call the 5 C’s of effective birth preparation:
It takes courage to step out of the mainstream and be vocal about what is important to you. It takes courage to decline or request procedures and recommendations when even after having done your own research you will be challenged with arguments that induce fear.
Recently, one of my clients was advised to go for a c/section at 38 weeks because at her last scan the estimated fetal weight was 3,7kg. This is only 200g more than the expected average but her Doctor told her of the danger of shoulder dystocia and how the weight would increase even more as time went by waiting for labour to start spontaneously. It took great courage (and listening to her inner voice that quietly reassured her) to decline the recommendation. 9 days later she went into labour on her own and gave birth to a healthy baby who weighed 3.4kg. The estimated weight was just that – estimated – and wrong! Another of my clients had the courage to decline the scan altogether and gave birth to a whopping 4kg baby. The same doctor said that if she had known, she would not have “allowed” her to give birth naturally! Both these women made courageous decisions that ultimately affected their birth outcome.
Wow, this is a big one because there are just SO MANY choices in pregnancy. The first priority when it comes to making choices is deciding what is important to you. Here are some of the things you might want to consider when narrowing things down.
When it comes to your health in general are you proactive (do you visit the doctor immediately and take tablets and antibiotics at the first hint of illness) or reactive (give your body a chance to heal itself and wherever possible avoid medication or use alternative and complimentary therapies).
Do you know what tests and procedures are routine in pregnancy and do you agree with them all? Do you know what they are all for and why they are necessary? Does it matter or would you do them anyway because they are offered and routine?
Do you want to have scans? If so, how many? Will you have scans for medical reasons or just to see the baby? Have you considered what you would do if the scan showed a major abnormality of your baby?
What are your beliefs about childbirth? Have you thought about it at all? Where do these beliefs come from? Are they positive or negative? If you are not sure, take 2 minutes to do this exercise http://www.transitiontoparenthood.com/ttp/foreducators/handouts/beliefs.pdf
Where would you like to give birth? Hospital, home or birth center? Doctor or midwife? Will you consider a doula? Is having a good relationship with your chosen care provider important to you? Does he/she respect your choices and beliefs?
Have you enrolled in any childbirth preparation classes? Will your husband/partner attend? Will he/she be an active partner with you at your birth? If not, who will be?
This seems a bit silly in reference to pregnancy and birth but it is important. Think back to your wedding planning days and how committed you were to making sure everything was just right. Preparing for birth requires equal if not more commitment. Commit to attend a class. Commit to reading the right books to help you make informed choices. Commit to speaking to people who respect your choices and keep you focused on your goal. Commit to attending classes that prepare you mentally and physically for the challenges of childbirth. Commit to practicing the techniques that you learn in the classes. Commit to accepting that certain things are out of your control. Commit to a birth free of fear, where you are fully in your power to make decisions that are right for you and your partner and your baby.
Being centered goes a long way towards being able to stand firm in your choices and decisions. Being centered will not allow us to fall prey to scare tactics used by impatient and uncaring health care providers. When we are centered, we are able to access our own intuition. We are more open to listening and responding to the little voice inside. Being centered allows us to connect on a deep, soul level with our unborn child and develop a relationship with them before they are even born. Being centered allows us access to the innate wisdom we all hold deep within, the wisdom and knowledge of how to give birth without outside intervention.
Don’t forget to celebrate the incredible miracle that is happening right inside your body this moment. You are making a baby! It is one of the most amazing experiences of your life. Sure it comes with a degree of discomfort and some unpleasant side effects but it is still such a miracle. Stay away from negative people, stay away from anyone who does not honor that you are able to make informed decisions based on your beliefs and expectations. Own that. Claim it. Celebrate it. Soon you will be a mother – now surely that is cause for huge celebration!!