As a mother of two, a self-titled birth nerd, and a soon-to-be doula, I can promise you that there are so many things your OB won’t tell you. Why? Well…their job is strictly to bring the baby safely to this side of the womb. It isn’t in their job description or in their model of care to educate, offer ALL the options, or to empower you in the birth space. If you’ve had an OB who did these things for you, I’m so glad! I hope you recognize that they aren’t the norm.
They won’t tell you these things because…it isn’t relevant to the job they need to do. It really is left to us, the mothers, to be informed and to educate ourselves. My hope is that this list encourages soon-to-be mothers and mothers expecting their second (or beyond) to recognize their freedom of choice in pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. (My word is NOT medical advice. Please do your own research!)
- You are allowed to deny ANY procedure throughout pregnancy and labor. This includes vaginal exams, ultrasounds, tests, IV fluids, pitocin, etc. There are valid reasons that women refuse these procedures and it is worth researching each one to see how you feel about it.
- You can look online or ask your doctor’s office for the statistics of their care. How many of their patients are induced or get an epidural? How many require an episiotomy or forceps? How many end up needing an emergency Cesarean? These things matter, because this information may show you that the risk in choosing this doctor to deliver won’t be in the best favour of the birth you want.
- Your due date can be off as much as two weeks before or after. First time mothers generally will go past their due date. There is no reason to rush baby’s arrival simply because their due date has passed! Most doctors will postpone any methods of induction until 42 weeks. If your doctor suggests induction for this reason, it is perfectly ok to deny it. This is also where concerns about size of the baby come into play. The first issue here is that ultrasounds and other methods to guess baby’s size are only that…a guess. They can be off as much as two pounds. Another issue is that the majority of women’s pelvises are well equipped to open wide enough for even a large baby, especially when given freedom of movement and not required to deliver horizontally (more on that in a second!)
- You should labor at home as long as possible even if you are set on getting an epidural. Once you get the epidural, chances are you will be confined to the bed, which can slow down labor. Being up and moving throughout even just the beginning of labor works WITH your body and your baby to keep labor going at a steady pace.
- The pain of contractions isn’t necessarily a BAD pain…they are the necessary pain that brings your baby into the world. Instead of running away from the pain, embracing the pain can help you endure if you want an unmedicated birth. Before giving birth, take time to rethink what birth pain is and the purpose it has.
- You don’t have to push on your back! In fact, this position is working against gravity because of the angle of the birth canal. Being upright, squatted, or on all fours is much more agreeable with gravity. These positions also lessen the chance of tearing. It is even possible with a low dose of the epidural to deliver in an upright position! This is definitely something you want to talk to your doctor about BEFORE its time to give birth.
- Your body is capable of telling you what it needs to give birth. May it be a change of positions, a dark, quiet atmosphere, less pressure of time, etc. These things can impact our body’s ability to give birth. When we are uncomfortable, feeling pressured, feeling at odds with someone in the room, our bodies will instinctually slow labor. Listening to these things can only help labor progress in a healthy manner.
- They give you very little breastfeeding information, if any at all. If you feel strongly about breastfeeding, you NEED to research it yourself BEFORE you give birth!
Here are some great breastfeeding resources!
- You will have VERY little support from any professionals postpartum. Taking care of a newborn is already hard…combine that with healing from a labor that left you feeling like a car crash victim. The majority of the attention will be on baby now, and that leaves some mothers suffering, either with physical issues or mental health issues. The biggest advice I can give is surround yourself with a support system that will recognize your needs…which are sleep, physical rest, nourishing foods, hydration, spiritual support, and time and space to bond with baby.
The LAST thing I want to leave you with: consider hiring a doula for birth, postpartum, or BOTH! If you want an empowered birth, if you want a restful and joyful postpartum, if you want to start parenthood on the best foot you can, a doula will be a priceless service. Look beyond the price for what a doula can offer you: unbiased support, emotional coaching, a library of knowledge, help to get you the birth you want, and if you DON’T get the birth you wanted, a support through the change of plans. Chances are you wouldn’t be able to imagine doing it without her!
Ultimately, the goal is for you to have a birth and postpartum experience that is enjoyable, empowering, and one you will look back on fondly (yes, its possible!). The bottom line is that this will look different and be unique to each woman, it won’t even look like the descriptions above, and a lot of the time it won’t go the way we planned. That is also what makes birth special: it is as unique as the individual giving birth! Treating it as such is the best way for every mother and baby.
About The Author
Mary Moran is an emerging doula, a wife, and a mother of two babes. She lives and works in Eastern Idaho where the summers are lovely but the winter is wayyy too long! Her passion is for women to be informed, empowered, and transformed through their journey in motherhood. More of her work can be found on Instagram @marymorandoula and on Facebook at Mary Moran Doula & Educator.