Tuesday, June 19, 2007

God Put You in Charge

I have been asked repeatedly about various advice I could give on actually having all these babies -- questions about pregnancy, birth, and the early days with a newborn. My baby is 18 months old now, so I don't currently have the "baby on the brain" syndrome I do when I'm pregnant. Maybe I just try to forget it all! No, really, I have been blessed to have fairly easy, healthy pregnancies and births. Although, after 72 months of pregnancy so far, I have done my share of complaining about it. With all this in mind, I will start writing on some of these baby having topics under the label of Nine Months.

My first piece of advice would be to have a pregnancy and birthing philosophy and then to find a caregiver, a doctor or midwife, who understands and supports your philosophy. So, the first part of this is to develop your philosophy on childbearing. There are lots and lots of books to help guide your thinking. Some of the materials I like are available through La Leche League International, the Couple to Couple League, and the Bradley Method of Childbirth. I think Dr. Sears' books are very helpful too; he has books on pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding or parenting.

My own philosophy starts with the fact that I believe that, with God's help, I am the person primarily responsible for my own health and for having a healthy pregnancy, birth and baby. I am not at odds with the medical community, but I don't think they always have the same considerations as I do when making health care decisions for me and my family. Further, it is my family who will have to live with the consequences of any of our decisions, not the doctor or midwife giving advice. I see the doctor or midwife as a professional I hire, whose informed opinion I appreciate and seriously consider, but whose advice is not a command which I have to follow. If I disagree with an opinion, I very respectively share the information I have and communicate with them how I think it relates to me, and then offer an alternative. All this requires a commitment to taking responsibility for educating myself and the courage to advocate for myself and my unborn baby. As I have tried to find like minded caregivers, usually midwives, I have found they usually agree with my decisions and share that their offerings are "just how it's done, but not necessarily beneficial."

I have friends who are really into epidurals and all that entails. I think that is fine for them, if that is what they want. I hear them, however, often complaining about all the consequences of choosing a highly technological birth with lots of unnecessary intervention. For me, I think it is important to use the technology we have judiciously, only as needed. Choosing a natural pregnancy and birth, with little intervention, is a way to safeguard my fertility and to ensure future healthy outcomes.

So, take charge of your own health care, find a supportive caregiver, learn everything you can, and don't be afraid to advocate for yourself, because nobody loves that little baby more than you do.