Prenatal Yoga for Bed Rest
So you're on bed rest. That's the pits, especially at a time when you'd love to be out preparing for baby or moving your body. If you're my yoga student, I'm going to miss seeing you in class (but it's ok, because I'll see you at Mom & Me soon enough)!
You can still practice SOME* yoga, although perhaps not a physical practice and not with us in class. It might sound a bit hokey (but that's ok, because I'm a yoga teacher and I'm allowed to sound a bit out there), but you can spend some time sending out good vibes to baby. Let them know they are in a very safe place with lots of people looking out for you two, and ask baby to stay in for a little while longer. You can focus on your breathing... sometimes when things get crazy and you can hear your heartbeat in your ears it is good to think:
Inhale: "Breathing in, I know that I am breathing in."
Exhale: "Breathing out, I know that I am breathing out."
Do this over and over again. If someone forwards you an email about something scary, delete it and then do this breath.
Try Ovarian Breath:
Imagine there is a long, golden cord wrapped around your hips and pulling into the center of the earth. That is holding you steady, just like baby's umbilical cord is holding them steady.
Now imagine that little flecks of light are rising up your spine as you inhale. Once start to exhale, allow that light to pour over your face, your heart, and back into your baby. Continue breathing in this way, never holding or restricting the breath.
There is a bit of science behind this... baby's endocrine system picks up on hormones from your endocrine system (and vice versa) so working towards the calmest state possible can have real results.
Actual physical movements*
- Ankle circles (each direction)
- Ankle extensions (push heel, ball, toe, curl your toes like you're grabbing something, and then pull the foot back to starting position)
- Wrist circles (interlace all fingers and make figure eight shapes with your wrists) go both directions
- Slow baby ab hugs. Slowly tighten your belly muscles inwards to hug your baby, then slowly release. Take several seconds for each.
- Arm stretches (using a belt, like a bathrobe belt, hold your arms overhead like the Y in YMCA with the belt between them. Move the belt forwards in front of you, then back behind you. It will kind of look like jumping rope).
- Keep the belt and do tricep stretches. Same grip, but now one hand is overhead and the other is by your low back. Your thumbs will face one another along the belt. Switch sides.
- Butterfly pose (sitting with soles of the feet together and knees open)
- Roll a tennis ball over any tense muscles you can reach, or put it into a sock and use that as a handle. Consider the hands, feet, calves, upper back, and really anywhere you can reach. You might be surprised to learn what is sore.
- Hands and knees, gentle "cat/cow" postures or just stay on hands and knees a bit
- side-lying leg lifts or stretches
*please, for the love of Pete, double check any physical activity with your provider. Bed rest can mean a number of things and can be prescribed for many reasons. Make sure you are doing what is best for YOU and YOUR babe. Take this list to your provider and verify that each and every action is ok before you try to perform it. Your provider may have additional exercises, too.
If your friends want to bring you things, say YES and TELL THEM what to bring you. Here is a fun list of things you may not have considered...
So you're about to become a mother... what kind of mother do you think you will be? Maybe it is something you have always considered: you've always cared for children, or you've idealized a mama from your past, or you are literally just hoping that you're not “that mom” on the news.
Whether or not you know it, you have a mama archetype in your toolbox already. She's in there with all of her quirks and good graces. She's just waiting to hatch when your baby does.
Nothing to worry about? Not so fast.
Your mama archetype carries with her all sorts of good, but she comes with a shadow-side, too. It's worth peeking under the hood to see what she might look like before she arrives. How?
Consult Your Mama Baggage: We all have mama baggage. Some of us have small, day-trip bags. For instance, your mama always made you take off your shoes immediately when you came in the house. She insisted that franks and weenies be served exclusively with canned corn? Do you do the same thing now? Um hum. These are quirks. They are funny, annoying, and may possibly result in tears. But they are like day-trip baggage.
Some of us have larger bags, like mamas who had what may have possibly been diagnosable psychological conditions. If you can recall your mother seeming totally withdrawn, or yelling at you, your siblings, or a host of individuals only she could see, it is worth talking about this with a therapist before you become a mother yourself. Perhaps you've already processed the difficult situations you grew up with, but you have a new lens. Prepare now.
Some of us have second homes. Mama baggage isn't necessarily bad things your mother did, they may be bad things that happened to her. Perhaps she passed away when you were young, or perhaps she abandoned your family. This doesn't mean you don't have any ideas about what it is like to be a mother... you may have more ideas than are physically possible in one lifetime as you assembled a mother-figure from family members, friends, and media icons. You may have set a standard for yourself that is completely unattainable.
If you have the resources (like time and money), you can certainly chat with a counselor or therapist about your relationship with your mother. They might help you release the grasp on the “right” way to pack a lunch, help you anticipate any predisposition you might have for postpartum mood disorders, or support you as you build up or whittle down your idea of motherhood.
If you're not sure, you can spend a little time journaling. Write down your ideas of what it means to be a mother, great mother stories, and other relevant details. Talk with your friends about their experiences becoming mothers and what surprised them. Begin to write your own story of what the motherhood journey will look like for you.
Why You Need Breastfeeding Support
Yep, that's a gorilla!
I know what you are thinking. I spend most of my time telling you how normal birth and breastfeeding are, and now it sounds like I'm telling you that you can't go it alone?
I'm speaking out of both sides of my mouth, and I mean both sides whole-heartedly.
Breastfeeding is totally natural, and you have all of the plumbing you need to breastfeed your baby. However, humans are social creatures who don't do well without connection, emotional support, and an extra pair of arms. Even my second-cousin Sven* who lives on a boat for months at a time eventually relents and asks for help.
My favorite story that illustrates this point is the story of a gorilla who had never seen anyone breastfeed. She was utterly helpless when her first baby was born, and the zoo keepers had to support her and supplement her baby. So when she became pregnant again, the zoo asked breastfeeding mamas from La Leche League to come and breastfeed their babies where she could see them. They did, she learned, and by the time her second baby came she knew exactly what to do.
Here are the ways your breastfeeding support person can help you:
Check out my upcoming Breastfeeding Basics classes, where your support person can learn all the tricks and tips they need in 2.5 hours.
*Name and details changed to protect the innocent.
Perhaps you're nearly as confused as I was about what a “midwife” does (versus what a “doula” or your “mother-in-law” might do to support you during labor). Let me spell it out for you in super plain English.
Homebirth Midwives: Are able to practice well-woman care, like pap smears and exams, and attend the births of healthy women carrying healthy pregnancies. They do not prescribe prescription medication, nor do they offer medical pain relief methods or procedures. Most often their care includes visits to your home before and after baby is born. Appointments with home birth midwives tend to be longer and more frequent than with other birth attendants.
Certified Professional Midwife
This woman has trained for years in both an academic and practical setting and then passed two grueling exams: one on paper, another eight-hour practical exam. It is the only credential that requires experience delivering babies both inside and outside of hospital settings. Legally, CPM's can practice in 26 states (although each state sets the standards for who may or may not practice in a medical setting like a hospital or birth center).
Registered Midwife (in Colorado)
This woman has trained for years in a variety of settings, from academic to apprenticeship. She must register with the state of Colorado and is the only birth professional permitted to attend home births. They must either take a training program through a recognized school or provide proof of equivalent experience and education.
Hospital Birth Midwives Somewhere between a homebirth midwife and an OB/GYN, a hospital birth midwife frequently works with healthy women carrying healthy pregnancies, but is also trained in the medical model and may offer medical interventions like pharmaceutical drugs and minor surgical procedures. Hospital birth midwives work in a medical office and do not travel to your home before or after baby is born. Their appointment times are often longer than the appointments of an obstetrician seeing a healthy pregnant woman.
Certified Nurse Midwife
This individual (the majority of whom are women) has a bachelor's degree in nursing and then a post-graduate degree (two years) in labor and delivery. She must practice within the scope of an obstetrician, meaning her philosophy of care is supervised/directed by a physician.
There are a whole host of organizations that offer credentials to midwives, and that is because there did not used to be a single organization. Each state had to define their own rules regarding midwifery care. Your midwife may carry a credential that is not listed here, and she may still be an excellent caregiver.
Regardless of the midwife you choose, you should know that your midwife is NOT a DOULA, or a person who is dedicated as a labor support person. Midwives provide perinatal health care, but will not arrive at your labor as soon as it begins. Typically, you make several phone calls to your midwife as your labor progresses and s/he evaluates when to meet you at your house/hospital. Some home birth midwives are also trained as doulas, but they will not perform both functions at once. In the event you need or choose to transport to a hospital, your home birth midwife may serve as a doula depending on her training and scope of practice.
Clear as mud? Great. Have a conversation with your provider about what services they offer and whether you'd like to invite a doula to assist you or work with the assistance of a family member/friend.
Interested in learning about whether a doula is right for you?
Use your B.R.A.I.N. (or ask Brian)
My BFF's husband, Brian. Holding a walnut.
If you're expecting a baby or have a new baby at home, you might feel slightly overwhelmed? No? You might feel like it is imperative that you know absolutely everything about pregnancy, breastfeeding, motherhood, immunizations, daycare, and kegels?
I know these are understatements, because every time I meet a new mama or a mama-to-be, I see a wild-eyed, information-starved, overloaded woman who just wants to know everything.
I can relate to the overwhelm and the constant drive to learn more. A few years ago I worked as a patient advocate for clients living with HIV, and I remember frantically searching the internet for answers, calling pharmaceutical reps so that I could confirm suspicions before confronting doctors, and literally standing in the doorway to keep a doctor in the room until he gave me what I wanted: one more test for my client. This is the Mother Lion behavior, a true testament to one's willingness to find their voice on behalf of someone else. Are you thrilled about being a mother lion? I'll wager you'd say half yes, and half no. And you're right on target. I'm about to give you the skills to be the mother lion on behalf of your child and for your own health as well, and it thankfully involves little internet research, bargaining, bribing, or accusations of wrongfully detaining a physician against his will. Which may or may not be a crime in Colorado.
I recently took a training from CAPPA to become a certified lactation educator, and during that training I learned a very important acronym that sums up exactly what you need to know. Because I'm afraid of intellectual property and all that jazz, I've modified it a bit to become my own.
CAPPA encourages clients to use their BRAIN when they must make a medical decision, so I'll recommend you ask BRIAN. My version comes with a handy cop-out, should you ever need to leave the room. Instead of saying, "I'll have to consult my brain" you can easily say out loud to yourself or to your partner, "I'd like to run this by BRIAN." Hint. Hint.
When confronted with a medical decision (someone suggesting a procedure, medication, or other treatment), ask BRIAN. Well, BRIAN E. And remember, if there are two patients involved (you and baby) make sure to ask the question for BOTH of you. Often mamas defer to what is healthy for baby without asking what she might experience, too. If you want your baby to have the best care available, you must make sure your baby has a mother well enough to deliver that care!
Benefits. What are the benefits of this treatment? This is something the person will likely list for you automatically, but occasionally they do not articulate the benefits because they believe the treatment to be the best option out there, or possibly accept it as common practice. No harm in getting the skinny (with sources, if you're hesitant or want to do your own research).
Risks. What are the risks of using this medication or treatment? This is also something they are likely to disclose, but not always in conversation. Usually these are the items listed on a release waiver, informed consent paper, or literature from the manufacturer of the medication or treatment.
Intuition. What does your gut say about this treatment? This is why you might need a few minutes away from the person offering the treatment so that you can gut-check. Does your gut check matter? Only to you. This isn't some wacky hippy yoga instructor gobbledygook. This is actual science, from a medical anthropologist. People must believe that the treatment/medicine they will take can work. Even clinically tested medications do not work all of the time, and they work less well and less often if the patient has no faith in them. You will actually know how you feel instantly, but it might take you a little while to articulate how you feel. Give yourself a little time, if you can (see N).
Alternatives. Ask what other possibilities exist besides the recommended course of action. Perhaps there are a few that have their own benefits and risks, but if you'd like to be an informed consumer, ask for the names of other medications or treatments so that you can do a little of your own research. This is also a great time to ask the provider why they would select the option they are recommending instead of these procedures. Sometimes it is because they believe the course of action is the best for you, and sometimes it is because they are more familiar with what they are suggesting. If their answer is "I don't feel comfortable performing that procedure myself," you probably don't want them to perform it, either! That doesn't mean the procedure itself is inherently flawed, it may mean you need a referral to someone else.
Nothing. What would happen if you took no action? Are there risks for waiting to do this treatment or start this medication? When will the window of opportunity close?
Expert. This is my bonus addition. I know it makes Brian a little tougher to remember, but you can write it on your hand if you must! Ask the person who is suggesting this medication or treatment to refer you to an expert on the topic. Even if they are an expert, there is nothing wrong with a second opinion.
Now, to play through in two FUN scenarios to drive the point home.
Pregnant mama is experiencing lots of discomfort during her early labor. Her nurse suggests she try taking a shower.
What are the benefits of taking a shower?
What are the risks of taking shower (to me AND to my baby)?
What does my gut say about a shower right now?
Are there other things we can do or medications we can take?
If I don't feel like taking a shower now, will I be able to take it later? What might limit my opportunity to do so?
BONUS: Is there someone who is familiar with pain relief techniques that I can speak with?
New mama is concerned about how much her baby is eating. Her pediatrician suggests offering baby a bottle of formula once a day.
What are the benefits of using formula? (for me and the baby)
What are the risks of using formula? (for me and the baby)
What does my gut say about using formula?
Are there other alternatives to using formula?
What would happen if we do nothing? How will we know when we need to do something or come back and see you next?
BONUS: Is there someone who is familiar with infant nutrition or breastfeeding who I can speak with?
You're on a wonderful journey to be a mother, and no one will expect you to turn around and deliver the next baby! Your job isn't to be an expert about everything you could possibly confront on this journey.
Every time you meet with a doctor, midwife, therapist, nurse, or practitioner of any kind, put BRIAN E. in your bag. It will save you from Doctor Google and information overload.
Birth Classes: Accept No Substitutes
I'd like to think I know a thing or two about birth. I've attended dozens of births, read hundreds of birth books, and observed a number of birth classes. In fact, I wrote my undergraduate thesis on how what "we" say to pregnant women can affect their perception of the outcome of their labor.
So when students ask me what kind of birth class to take, I have a few opinions on the subject.
Consider the benefits of live, in-person childbirth classes:
- In contrast to books and media classes, live classes are interactive which means you get your questions answered, but also those of other students. Questions you didn't even know you had!
- You get to move around. Rather than just looking at pictures or video of birth positions, you can actually move and get feedback from the instructor.
- Accountability to attend each class for you and possibly your partner, too. Even the best-laid plans to read books or finish seminars at an individual pace can quickly be usurped by the parts of birth preparation you think are more fun, like baby registries, showers, and assembling baby furniture.
Five reasons to look beyond the hospital (for class):
Sometimes hospitals offer a very inclusive and tremendous birth class, but often they are short and focus on the hospital procedure rather than the robust variety of topics and perspectives you're likely to get at an independent childbirth class.
1. You learn about birth (which is a normal thing, BTW). Literally everyone walking around out there was born, so this happens.... every day! You will learn about how your body will move through different stages of labor, learn tricks and tips to make yourself as comfortable as possible, and so will your partner.
2. You will meet other couples who you will get to know for many weeks. Most hospital-based classes are a little shorter and much larger in numbers than the other classes, which means you don't get the opportunity to connect with the other couples. This is great for partners who don't get the connection at prenatal yoga, and often don't seek out other parents-to-be. Many times these childbirth classes hold reunions a year later. If you don't yet have a village, this may be a great place to start forming yours.
3. Lending Library. Your hospital may also have a lending library, and certainly your local library has hundreds of books about birth. How will you choose? An out-of-hospital childbirth instructor often has a few go-to books that they know students appreciate and will typically lend them to their current students at no additional cost.
4. Personalization. Hospital classes typically need to cover a list of particular objectives, which may or may not be relevant to you. Independent childbirth classes are more fluid and customizable. Depending on where you live, you can find classes for high-risk mamas, first-time mamas, single mamas, mamas of multiples, lesbian mamas and more. Even if your class isn't specific for a particular group, your instructor will quickly learn about your values and help offer the information you're looking for.
5. They acknowledge that birth can happen outside of the hospital. They will not force an out-of-hospital agenda on you, but if you are the kind of person who is curious about the differences, they will share them with you. I know several mamas who planned their births in the hospital and wound up spontaneously delivering outside of the hospital because they could not transport in time. An independent childbirth class prepares you for the spectrum of birth possibilities.
Questions to ask the teacher:
Do you have any preference about where I choose to birth my baby?
Can I ask you questions outside of class, via email or phone?
Do you have a lending library that I can use?
How many mamas/couples will you accept in a particular class?
What is your birth-background?
Where were you trained as a childbirth educator?
How to tell if the teacher is one of your people:
Do you welcome same-sex couples?
Is there a faith background that you utilize in your teaching?
Will I be uncomfortable in your classes if I do not share your faith?
Will we be using art in this class?
If you are in Colorado Springs and want to know about upcoming childbirth classes, subscribe to my newsletter for monthly announcements.
Image courtesy of Tratog/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net
If you're a breastfeeding mama (or if you're about to be one) you've probably heard lots of commentary about breastfeeding. This commentary probably includes:
- How Long
It probably also includes the word should.
I hate the word should.
Let me be clear, I have some opinions about breastfeeding just like everyone else does. You probably have some as well. But the idea that you should do anything should be a red flag that you're about to get hit by someone else's values. Rather than taking someone else's values as your own, I recommend understanding why they hold those values and how you can best formulate your own.
May I present some facts surrounding the following areas so that you may make an informed decision about feeding your child?
Where: You are legally allowed to breastfeed your child in any place where you have the right to be*. This includes park benches, the zoo, restaurants, places of worship and airplanes. This does not include private property (because anyone can tell you that you no longer have the right to be on their property) and men's bathrooms. That's a short list.
When: Oh the SHOULDS about when! May I suggest whenever baby shows signals that she's hungry? Before she has a melt-down? Whenever you'd like? As you may recall from labor, baby lives in a space beyond time. As convenient as it might sound to schedule her feedings at regular intervals (and there are times when this might be appropriate to make sure she feeds often enough, per the recommendations of an IBCLC), most babies will simply make it clear when they are hungry. They are spending a lot of time growing, developing, learning new skills, and experimenting with new tasks. This means their caloric needs can vary from day to day and hour to hour. Are you hungrier on days when you do the incline? How would you feel about waiting for dinner with no snacks??
How Long: Just like the when, baby knows how long she needs to nurse at each feeding. More often, people comment on how many weeks, months, or years you should nurse each baby. Many factors play into the duration of breastfeeding, like medications mama might need to take, her employment, additional babies, and other factors. Baby expects to breastfeed until she's able to feed herself at the table and beyond. Did you know that the average age of weaning world-wide is more than 4 years old? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends six months of exclusive breastfeeding (this means no formula, water, juice, cow's milk, or anything other than prescribed medications) and sustained breastfeeding for at least 12 months.
Does that mean you should breastfeed your baby for 12 months?
No, it does not. But it means that it is worth considering why this recommendation exists and understanding the costs and benefits of sustained breastfeeding. I'll share some of the reasons why in an upcoming blog.
HOMEWORK: What are your values about breastfeeding? What are your goals? And why?
*In Colorado as in most states. There are a few states with slightly more stringent laws.
Stuck in the Middle with You
Amazing photo by Love Roots Photography
When you leave a meeting with your doctor or midwife, do you feel fantastic? Questions answered, worries allayed, empowered and ready for the next step?
If you're like many of my prenatal yoga clients, the answer isn't always yes. For many women, their choice in maternity care provider was based on a rogue recommendation or internet search, the "preferred" list on an insurance provider page, or the person you were already seeing for your gyn-needs. Sometimes a woman winds up with the provider who was able to accommodate her first prenatal visit in the shortest amount of time. As your visits progress, if you're starting to feel uncomfortable for any reason, it's time to look outside the box.
You may have a misunderstanding of the "rules." Do you think so? Let's check.
Rules About Switching Prenatal Providers in the United States:
1. There are no rules.
Well, that was easy! Often women feel trapped with one provider even though their gut is telling them that the provider isn't the best fit. Sometimes there is nothing wrong with the current provider, but the woman meets another provider and feels so much better about that person that she's tempted to switch. And sometimes there is a poor fit between a woman and her provider and she's (interested in) running for the hills.
How to Decide Whether to Switch:
Visualize Your Birth. It's ok, I'm a yoga teacher, I'm allowed to tell you to visualize your labor and delivery. I promise, you won't hurt yourself. First, visualize with your current provider. Imagine how they will want to interact with you during your labor and delivery. Will they take charge or let you take charge, as you prefer? Will they consult you for options and make sure you are heard, or do what they are accustomed to without asking your permission/opinion? Write down how this imagined birth made you feel. Then, imagine either the provider you'd like to work with or your ideal provider and go through the exercise again. Write. Compare/contrast.
DTR: Define the Relationship. My BFF and I agree that everyone should DTR with everyone they know, weekly. We're borrowing the practice from the Mormon faith, but we think it applies to everyone equally. Before jumping ship and changing providers, have a conversation with your current provider. Tell them what is worrying you and how you'd like them to interact instead. They can tell you whether or not your wishes are possible, and that will give you grounds for a stronger relationship with them, or a new partnership with someone else.
Explore the Green Grass... with a fine toothed comb. In your current state, you might actually think that your newly preferred provider is exactly as you imagine. Before terminating the relationship with your current provider, make an appointment with this new person and DTR with them. Make sure you're getting the interactions that you wanted.
Face Value. Get honest about your reasons for switching, especially if you can't seem to find anyone that lives up to your standards. The cards you've been dealt might limit some of the options you're seeking. For instance, if you are having twins, a home birth isn't going to pan out this time. If you have certain complicating factors, explore all of the options available, but know that no provider will be able to deal you a new deck of cards.
If you decide to make the switch, know that you'll have some paperwork to do. Have a conversation with the office staff for your new provider, your insurance company, and your partner. Make sure you keep clear receipts, get the full copy of your chart and lab work from your previous provider, and keep your perspective focused on what money cannot buy: your (and your baby's) health.
Benefits of Mom & Me Yoga
So many mamas eagerly join me for prenatal yoga. Pregnant mamas immediately recognize the importance of self care now that they are pregnant, even if self-care was not a part of their vocabulary or their week prior to pregnancy.
But once baby is born, yoga takes a back seat. And it should. I believe, and many indigenous cultures agree, that mama and baby should have some sacred alone time for the first several weeks postpartum. Now, most mamas I know don't spend six weeks alone with their babies, because it isn't practical or appealing. After six weeks, yoga can be a great addition for a number of reasons:
Get OUT of the house: getting out of the house is a lot more complicated than it used to be, but that isn't a good reason to just stay home. M&M yoga gives you an appointment to shoot for where walking in several minutes (or even half an hour) late is perfectly acceptable. Everyone understands the blowout, the extra long nap, or the grand schlep to and from the car.
Reality check: being home alone with an audience of a newborn (or two) can feel isolating for some mamas. Rather than consulting Dr. Google about normal behaviors for mama and baby, M&M yoga can give you a weekly view of other mamas and babies. If you're concerned about rolling over or possible postpartum depression, M&M yoga can offer a nice gauge.
Breastfeeding trial run: didn't show off The Ladies in public much before baby was born? Not sure how you will feel about it? Breastfeeding is welcome during and after M&M yoga class so you can feel confident that you are in a peer group with other women who are doing the exact same thing. In fact, post-practice breastfeeding time is one of the best times of M&M yoga, especially when I bring snacks!
Date with baby: if you spend all day with your baby, you probably don't schedule dates with them. And if you're away from baby for a good portion of the day, dates are a great way to connect. When you have a date with your baby, your perspective shifts from caregiver to companion. You get to play, enjoy their company, and create a very healthy dynamic in your relationship that will last your entire life.
Well, and YOGA: rather than jumping straight back into vigorous exercise, M&M yoga is designed for the new mama whose body is still changing. We take special care to stretch muscles that ache from holding baby or awkward breastfeeding holds, build low body strength, and pull the tummy back to a healthy position. There's a little quiet time at the end, too!
Are there benefits I'm missing? Please let me know!
Sign up for my new mama newsletter for more details. Class schedule here.
The Fallacious "Birth Plan"
Photo: Love Roots Photography
It will not surprise you to learn that I love planning. Outranked only by spontaneous napping and eating figs, planning is how I get my jollies most days of the week. As a stage manager, I have loved calling the shots, planning the transitions perfectly, and quickly taking control when things start heading off track. Stage managers love consistency, plans, and consistency (and licorice).
So you might rightly feel astonished to learn that I'm not a huge fan of birth plans.
For this, I refer to my dear departed friend Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was well known for the statement, "Plans are nothing; planning is everything." I don't otherwise have strong feelings about Dwight, but in this instance I am on board. Birth is dynamic. It is impossible to control, even by the most controlling of women, doctors, doulas, and stage managers. Birth, my friends, is like the weather.
While I believe that walking into a birth with a play-by-play, line-by-line plan isn't helpful, I believe the act of planning for birth is crucial. Imagine first that you are planning a wedding. You first select the location, the people who are important participants, the ceremony, the dress, the cake, the favors, and the officiant. Each of these is selected based on your values.
Wedding locations (and associated values):
Public park with free parking, restrooms, and negligible fee for area rental (values: cost-savings, accessibility, nature)
Five star hotel with valet parking, wedding planner, and "free" bridal suite (values: luxury, reliability, contingency-averse)
Write out your "dream birth" and include the who/what/when. Then assign values as follows. For instance:
"I would like to give birth at home because I value privacy/intimacy/cost-savings"
"I would like to give birth in a birth center because I value security/access to medical equipment/planning for all contingencies."
Work with your provider, your doula, your partner, and describe not only the hopes you have for your birth, but the values you attribute to those "plans." Knowing that things will not follow a step-by-step outline, your birth support team will have the ability to make suggestions and/or decisions that are more in line with your values. And this will result in the best possible birth outcome.
No one can control the weather, but knowing that you value safety over a rigid plan will allow your "wedding planner" (birth partner/doula) to divert you to an interior space if a storm threatens your beach-wedding, or to rally the coast guard and proceed under their watchful eye.
I'm one of those people who loves making your life easier (and I believe in you). I am an experienced registered prenatal yoga teacher and a lactation educator.
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