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Today’s Not the Day

“How much longer am I going to be pregnant?”
“When is s/he coming out?”
“How much bigger am I going to get?”
“My back/feet/skin/brain can’t take much more.”
“I just want my body back.”
“I just want to hold my baby in my arms.”
“Will these Braxton Hicks contractions never end?”

You know that feeling. You’re about 37 weeks, and you start the countdown. Really, around 32 weeks things may have gotten less fun, more mundane, and you started thinking a lot harder a lot more often about the day you’ll hold your baby as 2 months or less away. At around 38 weeks you’re still determined to keep going, no induction, but, whoa, look at the size of my feet! And everyone at the office (and grocery store, and gas station, and…) has to comment on your size as you walk past them. Sometimes numerous times a day. (And why did I think my office was nicely placed? I have to waddle past the same 11 people 8 times a day to go pee, and even though not all of them comment on my belly, they give me that look.) Around this time is when people start questioning your decision to keep going. They begin to make comments like, “You’re still pregnant,” and “Why haven’t you left for maternity leave yet,” or, “You’re going to pop any day now!” By the time you reach 40 weeks, though only a percentage of babies have already been born at this gestation, you’ve possibly been fed so much propaganda, been ridiculed in jokes and sly comments that you may feel you should be done by now.

Since when is it acceptable to talk to a woman about what’s going on inside her vagina like you’re asking about the weather or their new job? Or for a stranger to ask as nonchalantly as asking for the time what your birth plan is?

The fact is, people feel that something private is being made very public just by you walking around in maternity clothes and subconsciously rubbing your swollen belly. Your pregnancy has become public knowledge and a public topic, as much as politics, or religious affiliation: something complete strangers will talk to you about, though sometimes you’re begging them with your eyes not to go there. Now I understand why John the Baptist’s mother, Elizabeth, was indoors for the last 5 months of her pregnancy!

So, then, what is the right time for baby to come? When is an induction something you need to do? There really is no clear answer on this. In fact, to give you a bland answer would be as unacceptable as telling you because of your size, age, demographic, pain tolerance level, or marital status you’re going to have a cesarean. We talk a lot about what pregnant women should or shouldn’t do, or are or aren’t allowed to do, but this is something you can do all on your own, armed with knowledge, and not scare tactics, aware of the pros and cons, and not possibilities and what ifs that someone else gets to dictate. It’s never too late or too early to arm yourself with knowledge. Though Google can be a great tool in helping you locate information, remember Dr Google is not infallible. Your answers shouldn’t all come from anecdotal evidence from your friend’s grandmother (unless she’s currently practicing in the birthing field), from forums or your Mommy groups. Look for evidence based information, sites that show the studies that back up their statements, articles written by educators with credentials, writers that talk of Cochrane Review, SMFM, and ACOG as setting good standards of practice, and people who don’t believe one answer fits every mother, every pregnancy, every time. And most of all, trust your instincts!

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What is a Doula?

3B18B116-7A2B-4AE7-8D06-E494D20DBBF9Modern Greek: servant woman

Ancient Greek: female slave

In today’s society, a doula is there to ensure a laboring woman feels safe and comfortable, and to be well informed during her labor. She is not someone performing medical procedures or used to replace the OB or midwife in their role, but instead enhances the care they provide, by helping communicate with the family what is going on, and helping the laboring mother to make informed choices on what decisions are being made, as well as communicating with the medical team the expressed wishes of the mother and family. She is also there to support the partner. They too are going through a huge change in their lives, and that can be scary! The laboring mother looks to her partner for support and reassurance, and the doula can assist the partner in finding the right way to physically support her through contractions, and help reassure the partner that their efforts aren’t going unnoticed, and that they’re doing things right.

 

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Having a doula attend the birth reduces the chances the laboring woman will have unnecessary interventions, and raises the satisfaction she feels about her birth. There has been a significant increase in satisfaction between partners, between mom  and baby, and between patient and medical staff when a doula is present. It increases the chances of successful breastfeeding, and results in  a longer time moms breastfeed their babies.