Pregnancy is such an exciting time! Nothing can quite compare to the wonder and miracle of growing and nurturing a tiny baby who relies on you solely to develop into a human being who will eventually thrive on the outside, breathing and functioning on their own. While it is an amazingly exciting time, it is also a big responsibility to take on. This is pressed upon new parents in terms of the financial responsibility and “settling down” to be good role models for their child, but what seems to be forgotten or under-emphasized at times is the importance of mom’s health prior to conceiving her child and throughout her pregnancy. This goes beyond the well-known avoidance of toxic substances such as alcohol and tobacco products (though it is imperative that this advice is followed). What are you nourishing your body with on a regular basis, and therefore nourishing your growing baby with? What movement are you getting in on a regular basis both to promote a healthy functioning body for yourself as well as getting your body into shape to withstand the trials of your upcoming labor, delivery, and subsequent motherhood to your child? How are you preparing yourself and learning all about what you’re about to undertake, both during your pregnancy and during labor and delivery, as well as making good decisions that you are confident in throughout?
“Women need to take charge of their birth process and become informed, evaluate the data, and make authentic decisions regarding all aspects of pregnancy and the birth process. Women also need to invest at least as much time (and, preferably, more) in this endeavor as they spend evaluating and choosing the furnishings for the baby’s room, the best developmental toys, the highest quality stroller, and even maternity clothes. Now more than ever, it is essential that women use the information age to their advantage and arm themselves with the knowledge they need to make an authentically informed decision that will affect their lives and that of their babies.
In order to make an authentic decision related to birth, women need to speak candidly with their practitioners while simultaneously taking the initiative to develop an evidence-based fund of information about pregnancy and birthing that is available and accessible through a variety of educational resources. It is critically important to seek out the information that is available about birth versus solely relying on practitioner opinion. The concept of taking charge of your own health by actively learning about health maintenance and illness and disease prevention is encouraged in various aspects of healthcare today; it is often absent in maternity care.” -Alyssa Benedict (Pathways Magazine Issue 39)
As stated above, it is so important for women who are pregnant or even considering having children to know their options throughout pregnancy, labor, and delivery. “If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any.” (Diana Korte, co-author of “A Good Birth, A Safe Birth”) How do you “know your options”? Research. Ask questions. You can start with talking to a trusted friend or healthcare professional for guidance on where to begin, or by looking into reading materials. Search scholarly journal articles online. Arm yourself with data from multiple sources, as to avoid biases. Take birth classes. These extend beyond the hospital as well. Find a class that provides good information on prenatal nutrition and exercises, newborn care, breastfeeding, and general education on what happens during your pregnancy, labor and delivery, as well as options you have throughout the process. Many classes are out there, covering all sorts of trains of thought and wishes for expectant mothers. Ask around, do some research, and find the best fit for you. Also, be sure to choose a birth care provider who is on the same page with you. Choose someone with whom you can form a mutual patient-doctor relationship of respect and openness. Form a solid support team to back you up and help you along the way, whether it consists of a significant other, chiropractor, doula, family members, or trusted friends.
What are your goals with your pregnancy and delivery, as well as with raising your baby and giving them the best start you can in life? The choices you make for yourself and your baby are a big deal, as one of the most important things after securing the physical health of your baby and yourself is your emotional well-being and readiness to take on motherhood with confidence, feeling in charge of your choices and health as you move forward in this exciting new adventure.