Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mind Your Own Birth

No two births are the same. This is true if you are comparing your birth to previous births or to those of other moms. And guess what? That’s OK. There are many different choices to be made when giving birth and (this may come as a surprise) there is not one superior “best” way to labor and deliver a baby. Choices such as whether to choose an OBGYN or midwife, whether to get an epidural or not, or even whether or not to have a vaginal delivery or C-section should be made by the people who they affect the most.

When you are deciding what is right for you related to your pregnancy and birth experience the only people who matter are you, your baby, your husband or partner, and your care provider. While suggestions or comments that others might make about your choices may be well meaning, they should not be your deciding factor on your birth choices. I guarantee that your co-worker, sister, and great Aunt Sally will not feel a single contraction nor will they be the ones who will be getting up in the middle of the night to nurse the baby (hopefully).

To all the co-workers, sisters, and great aunts, don’t turn your friend’s pregnancy into a redo of your own. While advice regarding nausea remedies or which nursing pads you like may be helpful, advice on something as personal as her plans for birth may not be warranted. Let this experience be hers to plan in a way that fits her goals, not yours. Not everyone will have to walk up hill 30 miles in the snow to get to the hospital the way you did.

Just this weekend while walking at White Rock Lake, I overheard a woman telling her rather frightened looking friend about her experience in labor. The tale involved six days of labor, a hail storm that caused her to miss getting her epidural, bleeding nipples from breastfeeding, and a terrible laceration that caused her to be “not right down there” ever since! Now I’m not 100 percent sure, but I’d venture to say that this story was unsolicited and most likely not helpful to this mother as she prepares for her upcoming birth.

Birth is not a competition. You don’t get extra points for going without an epidural, for choosing to breastfeed, or for choosing to avoid labor all together with a primary c-section. None of these things make you a better woman or mother than anyone else. What will help you to have a happy fulfilling birth experience is to let it be YOURS and enjoy the birth of your baby. Reflect on what you and your partner want for your birth, choose a care provider who will support your goals and relax knowing the decisions you have made will lead you to a happy fulfilling birth experience.

Rachel Zimmer, DNP, is a Certified Nurse Midwife who cares for patients at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Hurst Euless Bedford.

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