You just found out you're expecting a new baby! So much is changing already! You want to know you are getting the best care possible to have a healthy and safe pregnancy and birth. Open communication is extremely important between care provider and the patient/client. A good care provider will not rush out of your exam room as quickly as they can get out the door, but will take the time to discuss your questions and concerns. They will also give you tips for how to stay healthy and low-risk. They will want to know about your nutritional intake and ask if you have been experiencing any difficult pregnancy symptoms or problems. They will offer ways to deal with those concerns, often sharing the safest options first. But how do you know your care provider is truly concerned about your well-being and that of your baby? How can you tell if he or she is interested in respecting your choices and allowing you the freedom to make decisions?
I'd like to share some "red flags" that *could indicate that your care provider is not interested in you making decisions about your care, but rather wants you to quietly comply with their standard practices, whether or not those practices are backed by extensive research.
1. Your care provider tells you that you or your baby will die unless you agree to their intervention or medication they are offering. Outside of true life-or-death situations, this could indicate you are being coerced into choosing the option the caregiver wants you to choose.
2. You are told that there are no alternatives to the intervention or medication they are offering you. That may very rarely be the case, however in most instances there are a few or multiple options available to you. For instance: you are told that the only option you have when you are "one week past your expected due date" is a medical induction. However, unless there is a true medical condition or problem with mom or baby, just coming to an arbitrary date does not necessarily mean an induction is your only option. Some providers will offer testing to check on baby, have more frequent visits to the care provider, and/or have the mother monitor baby's kicks throughout the day to ensure baby is safe while they wait for labor to start on its own, if possible.(1)
3. They will not provide you with actual current research. If they have thoroughly studied the topic, there should be different articles for or against different options. They should present you with the research and allow you to choose the option with which you are the most comfortable.
4. They tell you your baby is "too big", your pelvis is "too small" or your labor is "too long" to continue. Again, there may be rare circumstances in which these may truly be legitimate concerns, however research supports that the only real way to know if baby won't fit is to give the mother the chance to labor and birth her baby.(2) It also supports the fact that labors are all unique and should not necessarily be sped up simply because they are taking a long time. If mom and baby continue to handle the labor well, it should typically be allowed to progress at a natural pace.(3)
5. They are unwilling to allow you to make decisions such as delayed cord clamping(4), hiring a doula to support you and sometimes to help you avoid pain medication in labor (5) or "intermittent monitoring" of baby during labor (6). All of those are backed by research showing improved outcomes and/or a lower need for interventions for many mothers and babies. A provider who keeps up with current research will often give you more options to choose from.
If you find your care provider is not willing to allow you to have a say in decision-making, please remember you have the option of changing providers! A good care provider will allow for open communication and will allow you to say either yes or no to decisions. You will not feel rushed or just like another number. You will feel you are respected as a person. If you are only allowed to give a yes answer but are not allowed to say no, is it truly consent at all? I would say that it is not.
This information is mainly the opinion of the author, based on several years of experience. See sources to begin your own research. It is impossible to know what the "right" decision is for every situation. I highly encourage you to speak openly with your care provider about your birth wishes. If you feel you do not understand what they are telling you, ask questions and do your own research or consider hiring a doula to help your voice be heard. Seek out a second opinion if you feel it would benefit you. Listen to your mothering instinct which will often be a helpful guide for mothers!
*There are many ways to figure out if your situation is a true emergency or not. One method some families use to tell if they are in a life-or-death situation is to ask if they can have time to think about the intervention (in that case it is most commonly a cesarean birth that is being discussed). If the family is told there is no time to think about it, mom and/or baby will be in danger if they don't act right away, the family can be fairly certain that they are dealing with a true life-threatening emergency.
I was noticing that more and more my family members seemed to be quite self-centered and there was a lot of bickering going on. I had to figure out a way to help encourage loving-kindness in our lives. But How?
Then I thought up an idea that really seemed to make a difference! We've called it the "I See Love Jar". What we do is have a cute, decorated mason jar on the counter and beside it is a post-it notes pad and a pen. Whenever someone sees someone else in the family showing love to each other, we write it down on a post-it note, fold the sticky tab in on itself and place it in the jar. It has amazed me how quickly these little acts of kindness helped to encourage everyone to think about others and how they might show love to each other. It also made them more aware of the kindnesses that were being shown to them.
It may be something as simple as someone sharing a favorite toy or helping a younger family member with a difficult task. Really, it can be anything that is seen by someone else as a loving thing to do. We are absolutely not perfect, of course- far from it! But this little jar has helped my family focus more on others instead of ourselves. It is being used to form habits in my children's lives that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.
If you decide to give this a try, please let me know how it goes! Do you already do something similar? What does that look like in your home?
Looking for ways to save money on your Bradley Method® Childbirth Series or Doula Services from The Wonders of Birth? Here's how you can save and you don't even need a coupon code! Just mention this article to get the discount!
* Register Early for your Childbirth Series! I am now offering an Early Bird Discount for my Bradley Method Classes! Put in your deposit at least 2 months before your series begins to receive a $20 discount!
*Bundle services with Karen! The highest honor I could receive is for my Bradley® students to hire me as their doula! I want to say, "Thank you" by offering a discount to my current or past Bradley Method® Students. If you have paid for a full series of Bradley Method Classes with me, I am now offering a 20% discount on doula services!
I look forward to working with you to help you have a Happy Birth Day!
Any expectant mother can benefit from the nurturing support of a doula! You do not need to be planning a natural birth to benefit from the presence and support a doula provides. I have had the pleasure of supporting mothers and couples going through all types of birth experiences.
Many couples find it to be a fabulous idea to invest in preparing for your birth with childbirth classes, however, birth is not something we can completely control. Normally some things won't go exactly as planned and sometimes they end up far from what was expected. Does that mean the family will be destined to have a terrible birth experience? It does not have to mean that! Having a doula with you provides a continuity of care that is difficult to come by in today's fast-paced medical center. Doctors, nurses and often midwives who work in hospitals have a lot to manage and they sadly just do not have the time to devote a lot of attention to each patient, as I am sure they would wish for. This is where having the constant support of a doula can make a world of difference to the laboring mother and her support people. A doula will remain with the mother from the time she begins needing support in labor on through the birth of her baby and beyond! It is something that my clients have mentioned they were extremely grateful to have.
What if you are planning a scheduled cesarean section? You could still greatly benefit from the presence and care of a doula! There are many services a doula can provide as you prepare for surgery, go through your birth and recover. Even if you are having a scheduled cesarean birth, you still have options! A doula can help you advocate for those things that are most important to you!
What if you have a high-risk pregnancy? A doula can help you stay as healthy and low-risk as possible in other areas and can often provide the extra emotional support needed to go through a difficult pregnancy. All the other benefits of a doula still apply to high-risk pregnancies.
What if you choose an out-of-hospital birth? You could also benefit from the presence and support of a doula. Many mothers are still going to labor for a considerable amount of time before they head to the birthing center or call their homebirth midwives to arrive at their home. Doulas can provide support throughout the active labor, and often arrive before the midwives. Many mothers report feeling better supported and better able to work through their labors when supported by a doula throughout their active labor, birth and beyond.
Studies show that doulas decrease your risk of complications and interventions and are associated with better birth outcomes! So, why not contact a doula and set up a free consultation today. What questions do you have about doula services?
I created Carolina Moms Unite as a way to provide on-going support and community connection among new mothers, my childbirth students and doula clients. Mothers come and share what is on their hearts. Maybe they are going through struggles or changes and they have questions. This is not my time to talk, but rather their time to share not only their questions but also what has worked or is working for them! I encourage everyone to treat the gatherings like a buffet. Take what they like and leave the rest behind! We are diverse in our mothering styles, but that is to be expected and we embrace the differences and show compassion and acceptance to one another.
Motherhood is so rewarding, yet the challenges are real. Modern mothers do not have the support systems in place like they had in years past. With the electronic craze sweeping America, mothers report feeling much more lonely than in the past. Do you have the support you need? Do you have questions about pregnancy, mothering, how your body has changed after giving birth, or are you struggling with depression or feeling lonely? Getting into a support group can help meet your needs, find out how much you have to offer to help others and allow you to build lasting friendships.
Beginning in February 2018 we are going to try alternating our meeting locations between Gastonia, NC and Shelby, NC to see if we can build our group and reach out to more mothers in the area.
If you would like to attend the next Carolina Moms Unite meeting, click here to go to the Facebook event with all the details. Or call Karen for more information.
As I look ahead to next year, I would like to share some of my plans with you. I will continue to take doula clients, help mothers with breastfeeding, teach Bradley Method® childbirth series', hold monthly mom-to-mom support group meetings, attend quarterly doula meetings at Baby+Co in Charlotte, and attend monthly breastfeeding meetings at the Cleveland County WIC office in Shelby. However, I would love to add some new meet ups and teaching seminars to my schedule for 2018. Some of the ideas I have are:
Please comment below with your ideas. After all, I want to serve my community in the way that best meets their needs!
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to each of you!
Hypothetical, yet realistic thought process of a new mother, anticipating her upcoming in-home postpartum visit: "Oh, my goodness. What was I thinking scheduling my visit so soon after my birth?! What is my doula going to think coming into this cramped, cluttered, dirty apartment! I have got to get up and clean this place up before she gets here! I am so tired though, all I want to do is sleep...but I can't let her see my house looking like this!!"
I get it. I really do. So, here's what you can do to prepare for your in-home visit from me:
My students will often hear me say that where you give birth and who your birth team is will greatly impact how your birth goes! But for moms who live in our area, with just one health department, one OB office and one hospital, it can feel like you don't have any choice in the matter at all! However, there are actually several options you do have to help you achieve the natural birth you are wanting.