As a doula, and a mother of three children who experienced wildly different births, I have learned so much about pregnancy, birth, and postpartum care.
I’m always learning more, both as a result of my experiences and as a result of actively seeking more ways to support my clients. I’ve been thinking lately about the most important things I hope to share. With that in mind, here are some things that I think are central and crucial to share.
You have options.
- When you find out that you’re expecting a baby, you have choices. Perhaps the most important choices involves who you choose as your care provider during your pregnancy and birth.
- You don’t have to go straight to the OBGYN who you’ve visited forever. And even if you really love the OBGYN who you see for routine care, it’s a great idea to ask him or her some questions to determine if they’re a good fit for your pregnancy and birth priorities.
- Take some time to think about what type of care and support you want. Learn about the different care providers available. There are hospital OBGYN doctors, hospital midwives, and homebirth midwives. Interview a few different providers, and ask questions that get to the heart of what you want for your care. And finally, remember that you can even switch care providers during your pregnancy if you think your current provider isn’t the best fit. Please try not to worry too much about hurting a provider’s feelings. It should be a great fit and it should feel right to you!
Expect the unexpected.
- If you’re anything like me, you like to know what to expect and to have control. If you’re great at letting go of control, then you’re off to a good start. Pregnancy and birth are not easily controllable.
- I am surprised by every single birth I attend as a doula. Things never seem to go exactly as expected. And if you can make space for your birth to unfold in the way that it’s meant to, you may have an easier time handling the course it takes.
- It’s still important to learn what you can, surround yourself with good support, and think about what options you want available during labor. But it’s equally important to expect that things may change course and that it’s okay if you find yourself heading down a different path than you anticipated.
How you feel about your birth experience is valid.
- Each birth experience is unique. And the way we feel about our birth experiences varies widely. You may have what appears to be a very similar experience to somebody else, but you may feel completely different about it.
- It’s possible to have a beautiful and peaceful planned cesarean birth. And it’s possible to have an unmedicated vaginal birth that is very traumatic. Please know that your feelings are valid. I wish there was more space in our society for people to authentically share how they feel about their birth. I wish we didn’t invalidate mothers and remind them to be thankful that everyone is healthy.
- Find somebody to listen to your story. Think carefully about who you choose to share your story with. Part of healing from a traumatic birth experience is working through your story with an experienced listener.
There is so much more to say. But I think these three points encompass many of the smaller things that I find myself discussing with friends and clients.