Preparing for Childbirth
When most women consider childbirth preparation, thoughts are often limited to the method they’ll use such as Lamaze, Bradley, HypnoBirth, etc. Anyone planning to have a baby should, first, do just that: plan to have a baby. I know, I know, how many of us actually do that or even get the chance since many pregnancies are a surprise? Considering that more women are postponing motherhood until their 30s and 40s, taking a moment in the 20s to plan is a great idea. Also, this is a great addendum to the motherhood topic for those mother-daughter talks. While what method and, thus, what type of childbirth class to take is important, there are a few other things to consider.
1. Consider where you want to birth While birth centers and hospitals are covered by insurance, home births involving the services of a midwife are typically an out of pocket expense. As soon as you know that you want a midwife’s services, you should start saving for the fee. If you’re willing to move temporarily to another state where midwives are licensed because they aren’t in your area, include those expenses as well. A great way to get help with those expenses is to add them to your gift registry or turn one of your hobbies like jewelry making or knitting into a small business for which you’ll use the earnings to secure a midwife.
2. Consider the type of birth you want Two words: BIRTH PREFERENCES. No matter where you plan to birth, you should have one. Even someone wanting a home birth but, just cannot seem to acquire the funds to pay a midwife may have to have a hospital birth and home births that may turn into a hospital transfer should have a contingency plan so your wishes are clear. There are tons of examples online to help you map out your “please dos” and “please don’ts” for hospital staff. Your preferences can include everything from whether or not you desire to exclusively breastfeed to requesting no vaccines be administered to no circumcision if your newborn is a boy. Flexibility is just as important when setting birth preferences as birth can be unpredictable and certain things may conflict with your wishes. The goal is to be educated enough on your options to make informed decisions regarding how you give birth.
3. Consider who you want to assist you in birth OB? Midwife? Doula? In Tennessee, you have two options: a home birth with a midwife or a hospital birth with an OB. Midwives do not have hospital privileges here so, your setting determines your attendant. If that is the case where you live and you prefer to work with a midwife, consider having your well woman care being handled by one to begin cultivating that relationship. It is often forgotten that midwives do more than “catch babies.” Start taking advantage of their services before conception. Just remember it will likely not be covered by insurance but, you get what you pay for. *wink wink*
Now, doulas do not provide any medical services but can attend your birth as emotional and physical support. She will also provide tons of helpful information throughout the pregnancy and into the postpartum period. We are found to be most useful in hospital births where the environment is not as easy to control as your home. Doulas are another out of pocket expense for most though, insurance providers are beginning to recognize our value and provide coverage for our services. This is another item that can be added to a gift registry (great for a group of co-workers to give) if you need help with doula fees.
There are many things to consider when planning to start a family but these are the three questions I would answer first regarding prenatal care and the actual birth. Where you birth and who attends that birth will influence how you birth. If you want an out of hospital experience that will require a small investment, start saving now or solicit anxious grandparents-to-be for a donation. Even with unexpected pregnancies and birth being unpredictable, still give yourself the space to plan and create the birth you want.
Terri Lee-Johnson is a homeschool mom, wife, doula, and apprentice midwife in Memphis, TN. In her spare time, she reads voraciously, watches historical documentaries, and is artsy craftsy.