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Congratulations, You’re Pregnant and…

You have choices:

1)  You can choose the status quo:  do what your doctor says, show up at the hospital when your labor begins (or more likely your induction), vaccinate according to the CDC schedule, etc. 


2)  Scramble to become an astute researcher in a very short while:  learn to discern myth from reality, question the status quo, wonder where the boundaries of your new power as parent begin and end.

And that myth from reality part is tough even for doctors!  I was at a birth during which the mom opted for an epidural.  The anesthesiologist said, “There is no truth to the myth that epidurals slow down labor.”  No less than 10 minutes after he left the room, the OB came in and said, “Now, we know that epidurals often slow labor…” 

Frankly, choice 1 comes with less stress.  Choosing this path is not indicative of your parenting merit or your character.  It is a choice.  I’ve had clients who made this choice.  They hire a doula to guard their informed consent or provide need-to-know info on the spot. 

Choice 2 requires quite a bit of work.  And if you’ve not been thinking much about birth or the politics/litigation/trends of the American birth scene, it can feel overwhelming to tackle such a monster during pregnancy. 

To me, choosing the second path has the benefit of springboarding you into parenting.  Most things in parenting are not cut and dry.  There are hard choices to make and for the first time, perhaps, you’re making big choices for another human being.  Pregnancy is a wonderful time to begin finding your mama or papa voice. 

Noelle and Zach are doing this.  And not just about their birth choices.  Before they became pregnant, they were already thinking through questions of vaccinations. 

Eek…the dreaded vaccination question.  CDC schedule, alternate schedule, no schedule?  Aluminum, mercury, pertussis, oh my!

Ha!  If there is one area I refuse to give advice, it is vaccinations.  There is risk on both sides.  And I believe only the parent has the right to decide which risk to take:  possible disease or possible side-effect. 

Ah but Noelle and Zach are in a unique position.  They not only get to decide about the usual shots (around 20 before the age of 6 months), they also get to decide about shots like japanese encephalitis and rabies.  See, these cats will be moving to a developing country when their wee one is around 5 or 6 months.  Shhh…don’t tell them I said this but I’m very glad I’m not in their shoes when it comes to making decisions about those vaccines!   

Pregnancy is a beautiful time to try out our courage,  our strength, and our intuition.  Pregnancy is a beautiful time to begin parenting.

4 responses »

  1. Sigh.
    You bring up so many good points- where to start?
    I’m just getting started with helping women (post-partum, not birthing doula), but know what I hear all the time? “I think I want to try for a natural birth, and I think I want to try to breastfeed.” And these same women aren’t aware that the medical community is pretty much against them. They think that their will alone will make it happen- without knowing the that typical hospital procedures undermine efforts to do both. Their biggest fear is the pain aspect- yet they don’t realize that their ability to work with their labors is greatly affected by care choices their doctors/midwives/nurses make. AND if they do figure this out, it’s not until they experience it for themselves. I think that’s why so many women seek a different kind of birth after their first- because they realize the reality of managed health care in America.
    I wish there was a better way to reach out and educate women BEFORE that….maybe we could attach copies of “The Business of Being Born” to pregnancy tests?
    I’m just beginning to think that waiting until you’re pregnant to study about these kind of things is too late.

  2. Congrats Emily, on beginning your postpartum work! I had previously sent your birth story to Noelle because she’s a runner, too. 🙂

    You’re so right about waiting until pregnancy to learn about birthy practices. My friends and I have had tremendous challenges getting women who are not yet pregnant to come to movie screenings or events.

    And I was that girl in my first pregnancy who thought the hospital wanted me to have a natural birth. I’m so very thankful I caught on–even if it was a last minute scramble!

  3. I can sympathize with the choices that Noelle and Zach have to make with regard to additional vaccinations … it’s difficult when you add in the uncertainty of overseas–particularly developing country–life. My husband and I are in a similar situation, as he works as a foreign service officer for the U. S. Department of State, but in some ways our choices have been made much easier: We either have the recommended/required vaccinations for ourselves and our child, or we don’t get medical clearance to go to post, and we look for a new job for my husband. We haven’t discussed vaccinations yet, but I have a feeling we’re going to go along with the docs on this one, even though it’ll be for non-medical reasons.

  4. Deborah–yes, I can see that your choice is made for you in this instance! I’m sure there will be plenty other tricky choices left for you…Welcome to parenting!


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