So you’re pregnant? Congratulations! Your life is about to change in ways you might find unthinkable (and we’re not even talking about the surrender of your once slim waistline to proportions most comparable to that of a Dr. Seuss character).
Pregnancy is the beginning of a new life for a baby, but also a new life for you as a parent. If this is your first baby, your head may be filled with an endless list of questions and concerns. If you’re a veteran of the labor and delivery room, you’ve got a better idea of what to expect, yet every pregnancy—like every mother and child—is different.
While pregnancy and birth have physiologically been the same since the beginning of time, your options as a pregnant woman today are greater than at any previous time in history. After confirming your pregnancy, your first (and arguably most important) decision to be made is the choice of a healthcare provider. While maternal care in the United States is frequently provided through obstetrical physicians and hospital births, we’ve also experienced a growing return to low-intervention, midwife-assisted births.
How do you know which is right for you? Consider what is most important to your birth experience, always remembering that birth is anything but predictable and flexibility is vital. Are you interested in birthing naturally, without the aid of drugs or invasive procedures? Would you rather give birth at home or in a birthing center as opposed to a hospital? A midwife may be the right choice for you. Conversely, if you know up front you’ll want an epidural at the first sign of labor pain, you’ll probably find the anesthesiologist at your local hospital to be your best friend.
Keep in mind that each birthing choice has its pros and cons, and it’s up to you to weigh which option is the best fit for your needs. If you give birth at home and have complications, you’ll need to be transported to the hospital. Epidurals may provide excellent pain relief but have potential, although rare, side effects. Some birthing centers will not accept a mother attempting vaginal birth after Cesarean section (VBAC). Being an educated consumer in your pregnancy will allow the best possible birth experience and beginning for your new baby.