By Christine Goldman, CD, CPD, CBE, LE, Mother of five
Along with a positive pregnancy test come many feelings: a sense of wonder, joy, or perhaps surprise. Even if you’ve been pregnant before, there is always a sense of the unknown. How will I feel? How will it affect my everyday life? Who will I choose for a care provider? How long can I work? What will my labor be like? Will I have a girl or boy? Will he or she have a big head? (This last one seems to be a VERY common fear.)
Since 1994, Doulas of CNY has been working with expectant moms, supporting them through all of their questions, concerns, and fears. We heard women’s fears, analyzed them, and put together a checklist to get you off to a good start.
Choosing your care provider:
- Certified Nurse Midwife – Specially trained, licensed professionals experienced in providing obstetric and newborn care, CNMs provide comprehensive, family-centered maternity care from the first prenatal visit through labor, delivery, and after the birth of your baby.
- OB/GYN – A medical doctor who is specially trained to provide medical and surgical care to women, an OB/GYN spends four years after medical school in a residency studying pregnancy, reproduction, and female medical and surgical problems.
- Family Practitioner –- Aa medical doctor who specializes in the health care of all family members. They are prepared to provide normal OB/GYN care, but will refer high-risk pregnancies and other problems to an OB/GYN. All family practitioners are trained to perform Cesarean births in an emergency and also to assist other specialists in doing the procedure. It is of utmost importance to schedule an introductory visit to meet with the care provider you are considering and determine if you feel comfortable with him or her, and their care plan for you.
Nutrition for you and your baby is especially important. Seek information on the best foods to make sure you are getting proper nutrients, vitamins, and caloric intake to grow a healthy baby and to take care of yourself as well. Prenatal vitamins are recommended. Smoking is discouraged; look for local programs to help you quit if necessary. With an uneventful pregnancy, you can continue your normal exercise routine for now, but you may have to alter it later on. Seek the advice of your care provider. Health fitness centers usually have a prenatal yoga class, which is not only beneficial for proper posture, but breathing technique as well.
Begin choosing your support team. This begins with a loved one (spouse or partner) and may include your mother, sister(s), and friends. This team includes the people who love you and will care for you. Consider hiring a doula, a person who specializes in helping families through pregnancy. Doulas do not provide any clinical care and therefore do not replace your obstetric health care provider. Generally your relationship with your doula will begin during pregnancy, for example helping you find the appropriate childbirth class, learn birthing techniques, write a birth plan, and more. Most doulas will provide early labor support at home, helping you while you are in labor before it’s time to go to the hospital or birth center. They will then provide advocacy, inform you of your birthing choices, offer continuous labor support through delivery, help with breastfeeding, and check on you during your postpartum recovery. Some doulas also provide in-home support to help you transition to motherhood.
Hopefully you will have an uneventful pregnancy and will be able to enjoy the little kicks and rumbling in your tummy, taking it step by step while getting the answers that you need from the team you have chosen to assist you in the birth of your baby.