This week one of my friends welcomed a healthy baby boy into the world. I'm so glad her pregnancy went smoothly and she survived the delivery. I'm excited for them and also a little shocked by the whole thing. Shocked, you may ask? Shouldn't I be ready for the delivery process? Are you kidding? I'm scared and totally freaked out!
Seems like my friends who've had babies know so much more about the whole delivery thing than I do. One of them opted for a home birth and used a doula. Until a few weeks ago, you could have convinced me a doula was some sort of French pastry, I had no idea! My friend seemed so sure of herself so of course I asked her countless questions. I'll admit I was slightly interested, scared, and surprised by it all. When I first found out I was pregnant, I assumed my birth would take place in a hospital, and I would consider (if needed) drugs during delivery—I wasn't really concerned about the whole process of giving birth. I'd never even thought about whether I'd want a midwife or a doula.
Several of my friends have used midwives and believe in this whole natural life philosophy. One friend's partner explained the whole thing to me. He said they wanted to celebrate the beauty and nature of pregnancy without the intrusion of modern medicine (unless absolutely necessary). He talked about the potential discrepancies involved in hospital births and all the "unnecessary" tests that newborns are given after birth. Many of these same friends are also wary of having their children vaccinated—a whole other topic that I need to do more research on. I nodded and listened to all the glowing things my friends had to say about having a "more natural approach" to pregnancy and birth; still, I'm planning on giving birth the old-fashioned way—in the hospital!
What's Right for Me?
I asked my OB-GYN about the wonders of doulas and midwives. Her explanation was that many times if you choose to have a natural childbirth outside of a hospital, a midwife is the best way to go. The midwife acts as your birth doctor and is there with you for visits during the whole pregnancy, delivers the baby, and follows up with you after the baby is born. If there is a medical emergency during the birth, the mother is then transported to the hospital.
A doula assists with the birth process and is available as a coach before, during, and after birth. A doula can also be with you at the hospital or a home delivery. I did some research of my own and found lots of information.
To find doulas and midwives in your area, check online or even call around. I discovered our local hospital has a "meet and greet" night with doulas and midwives to answer any questions expectant parents might have about what they do.
I'm a little concerned about putting pressure or expectations on myself that I might not be able to deal with when the time comes to deliver this baby. I'm educating myself about hospital versus home births and feel that for my first child, the hospital is the way to go. As for whether I'll take pain medication, like an epidural, I'll decide when the moment arrives. Just like everything else I'm discovering along this amazing pregnancy ride, you have to do what is right for you. Just because my friend had a successful home birth with a doula doesn't mean that it's the best decision for my husband and me.
Waist measurement: 38 inches
Weekly weigh-in: 162 pounds
Pregnancy symptoms: My stomach and breasts are still growing!
My favorite pregnancy anecdote for the week: Friends saying, "Don't worry, as soon as you give birth you forget about all the pain because of all the hormones racing through your body, and you're ready to do it again!" Really? I'm just not sure about all that. My hunch is everyone who tells me this has just forgotten the pain.
Pregnancy "first" of the week: Looking into alternative birth options. I think I'll stick with the hospital.
Doctor's visit: Not this week.
About the Photo: The above picture of the author was taken during her 20th week of pregnancy by Dean Lipoff.
Read the next installment: week 21