In a group that I am in the question was recently asked: What are your absolute don’ts for pregnancy? The answers were really varied and ranged from the standard eating advice: No sushi, runny eggs, soft cheese etc to some more holistic advice: Don’t take dodgy advice or go against your instincts.
Blue cheese - Do? Don't? Make an informed decision that works best for you? Image courtesy of Wikimedia commons.
So I decided to put together a list of a few of my top DOs and DON’Ts for a healthy pregnancy.
DISCLAIMER: Standard disclaimer applies. I am not a medical specialist. Please do not make decisions based solely on my blogs – use them as a starting point for your own research and conversations with your care provider/s.
DO: Assess ALL your options ALL OF THEM!
Not just the ones that your best friend says worked for her. Talk to, or ask questions about ALL the possible care providers in your area. Chat to different holistic practitioners about different modalities that may help you. Every time someone recommends something to you check it out – but also check out all the alternatives. This includes when your care provider recommends a test or procedure – there are ALWAYS other options; be sure to ask what they are!
I am always amazed at the number of women who say of a test, procedure, model of care etc: Oh I don’t know anything about that, but I’m okay with what I’m doing. Seriously – why be “okay” with what you are doing when there are unexplored options that could make you excited about what you’re doing!
I deserve to make my choices based on ALL the information and options available in my community.
Everyone woman and every pregnancy is unique. Image courtesy of Morgue File
DON’T: Forget that you are an individual What worked for your best friend may not be suitable for you. Maybe she swears by chiropractic care, but you feel that physiotherapy works better for you. Or she refuses to eat runny eggs while eggs benedict remains a staple breakfast item for you. Perhaps her dream birth is a family centred elective caesarean and yours is a physiological birth at home. It's okay to be different!
I am an individual and deserve to make decisions that fit best with my individual values, beliefs, feelings and experiences.
DO: Write out your birth goals Sit down and visualise your birth. What do you see? Hear? Smell? Feel? Where are you? What’s happening? Who’s with you? Articulating a birth goal is important so that you can ensure that the decisions that you make along the way support your goal. Make sure that your care provider knows your goal and ask them how they will support you to achieve it.
I deserve the peaceful, beautiful birth that I envisage for my baby.
DON’T: Plan to “go with the flow” This one is kind of a do and a don’t all rolled into one. Personally I think that you should go with your own flow – following whatever your body is telling you and changing your plans accordingly. However – this isn’t what most women mean when they say that they “aren’t going to do a birth plan. I’ll just go with the flow”. What they mean is that they will just go in and follow the instructions of the midwife or OB. If you don’t have a plan you can bet someone else will have a plan for you. And it may not match your birth goals.
Having a birth plan doesn’t make me “difficult”. It makes me a great parent, planning for a positive birth for my baby.
Seek advice from your care provider as often as you need to feel healthy and safe. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
DO: Seek advice from your primary care provider as needed If you have ANY concerns about your health or your baby’s health speak to your care provider. If you do not feel comfortable taking your concerns to them then I recommend reassessing who you have engaged to care for you. Because a part of their job is to make you feel safe.
I deserve a care provider who makes me feel safe and cared for in their presence.
DON’T: Forget who holds the decision making responsibility Always get information from your care provider, but don’t forget that they can’t make decisions for you. That’s the law. Only YOU have the legal right to make decisions in regards to your pregnancy and birthing care.
I take my responsibility as a parent seriously by ensuring that I make informed decisions for my pregnancy and birthing care.
DO: Seek support from like-minded people Some people find pregnancy to be a socially isolating time. Between appointments, tiredness, illness, preparations and additional work it can be hard to find time just to chat to others. And if your pregnancy and birthing choices are different to others in your usual social circle this time can be even more isolating. There are support groups for EVERYTHING these days. Check out Facebook or chat to a local doula or childbirth educator to find one that works for you.
I deserve to be surrounded by people lifting me up, helping me to be the most confident and capable mother I can be.
Surround yourself with supportive people and don't listen to horror stories. Fill your life with positivity! Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
DON’T: Listen to unsolicited advice and/or “horror stories”. Everyone loves to share “advice” and “stories” and your mind takes them all in. Why feed your mind negativity? Before they start chatting ask people: How will this story maintain my positive frame of mind? If that doesn’t send them the message just tell them – thanks but I don’t need to hear this story.
I deserve to be surrounded by positivity and love and so does my baby.
DO: Make the decisions that work best for you. Just because you ask for advice doesn’t mean that you have to take it! You also don’t have to do something just because it’s what your mum, sister or best friend did. You are a unique individual and the decisions that you make should reflect this. And you have no need to feel guilty.
I deserve respect for the informed decisions that I make as I make them with love, in the best interests of my own family.
DON’T: Forget just whose birth this is! It’s your birth so what YOU want is what matters. I hear story after story of women talking about what their mum, partner or care provider wants for them. What your care provider wants or thinks is best is only relevant when they are the one giving birth. Refer back to the point about being an individual. You have unique dreams, goals, fears, experiences and values. Your birth belongs to you and your baby – no-one else.
I deserve to be honoured as I birth my baby.
DO: Whatever makes your soul sing! If something feels bad, don’t do it. Do whatever makes you feel happy, relaxed, safe, cared for, honoured. Pamper yourself and engage in all your favourite activities. Not because you might not get to do them again for a while but because:
I deserve to be happy as I prepare for the amazing birth of my baby.
I’m really sorry for anyone who was hoping that this list would include what tests and procedures you “should” do or what you “shouldn’t” eat. For me the absolute key to a healthy pregnancy is making the informed decisions that work best for you. What a healthy and positive pregnancy and birth looks like will be different for every woman – some will want or need every possible test and procedure to feel healthy and some will feel unhealthy the moment they step foot in a doctor’s office.