Research, Research Research!
by Kaleen Richards, CNM, ARNP
Investing in your baby’s birth makes sense. It is one of the most memorable and life-changing events.
Why is it then that most people do more research when buying a car than they do for the birth of their child? Gas mileage, safety, resale value and crash ratings are just a few of the things people research before investing in a new car.
What do people research prior to giving birth? Often nothing. They show up where their insurance tells them to go and do what they are told, rarely asking questions.
Investing in the birth process by researching birthing options and practitioners is important because it ultimately affects the outcome and the memory you will have forever. Investing in your child’s birth involves research, time and money. It’s like the saying “what you put in, you get out”.
First, you should research and invest in nutrition. I recommend parameter shopping which involves shopping around the parameter of the grocery store and avoiding middle isles that contain boxed food that are highly-processed. Whole wheat bread, grains and pasta should substitute for white, processed foods which contain little B vitamins, like Folic Acid which is important in preventing Spina Bifida in the baby. Getting on a whole-food prenatal vitamin with fruits and vegetables in the ingredients’ list, and no dyes or preservatives, is also very important to prevent anemia and muscle cramps and increase overall energy.
Taking time to interview practitioners is another crucial step in investing in your birth experience. Pregnancy is not an illness and so you aren’t being treated or cured of anything. You are hiring the practitioner and so you do have a choice and a voice in how you want to be treated. You can also fire a practitioner you are not pleased with.
What is your practitioner’s philosophy on natural childbirth, breastfeeding and bonding with the newborn? Does the practitioner honor her patients’ birth plans? How late can you go past your due date prior to medical induction? Does the practitioner offer any natural remedies for common discomforts or natural inductions? What is his C-section rate and why? These are all questions you can ask as you interview a practitioner.
I am a midwife, so – obviously – I suggest considering a midwife as an option when investing in your birthing experience. Midwifery is a partnership between the client and the midwife. They come to trust each other during the prenatal period and each knows the intention and goal of the other. This facilitates natural birth because the woman trusts the process and the practitioner, so she can turn her brain off and focus on giving birth.
Whether you decide on a traditional medical doctor or a midwife, choosing a practitioner who wants to partner with you to educate you on the process of birth empowers you to make good choices during the pregnancy and recognize when complications arise.
Researching the location of your baby’s birth is another way to invest in the birthing process. What options do they offer women in labor? Do they have telemetry monitoring in every room or the option for intermittent monitoring? Do they offer hydrotherapy? What is the C-section rate? Do they encourage rooming-in with the baby? Do they provide early discharge in less than 12 hours if everything is normal with mom and baby? Decide what options are important to you, and ask those questions as you choose which hospital or birthing center you want.
Where you birth is a big investment in the overall experience – it’s the venue! You want to feel relaxed and safe. Many women are choosing out-of-hospital birth, staying home or going to a birth center because they want the overall experience to be intimate and empowering and not a medical event. Many women say once they walked into the hospital they lost control and felt powerless over their birth. During a homebirth, the practitioner respects your space and desires for the birth.
Finally, spending extra money on the practitioner, classes and extra help can be a good investment for planning your birth. You may want to enroll in a good childbirth and breastfeeding class such as Hypnobirthing, Bradley Method or Birthing From Within. These classes teach how birth works, coping techniques, coaching tips and afterbirth care. I recommend you avoid mainstream classes that prepare you to be a good patient and emphasize pain medication.
Paying extra for a practitioner who is out-of-network or not covered at all may still save you money in the end if it ultimately helps you avoid a C-section. Investing in a doula or labor coach who supports natural birth and is educated on options and how to support through birth is another investment that can help prevent C-section.
Ultimately, in the end, we don’t have complete control over when or how birth happens. Investing the time to educate yourself on birth and finding the right person to guide you through it can help create a sense of peace, and utlimately a very good birth experience.
“As a nurse midwife I have worked hard to offer families all possible birth options: home birth, birth center, and hospital birth. I started out as a doula and childbirth educator before getting my RN degree. I believe all women benefit from prenatal care with a midwife due to the emphasis of the Midwifery Model on education, partnership, and natural childbirth. I have three amazing sons, two of which were born at home with a midwife. As a health care provider, I encourage natural remedies for healing and have taken courses to increase my knowledge. I do, however take pride in my ability to offer medication when necessary. All women deserve to make choices during their birth process and it is an honor to help offer natural childbirth options to families in our community.” – Kaleen Richards, CNM, ARNP