As a creature of habit and comfortability, I like to stick with what I know. I’ve used the same midwife for both pregnancies so I can only base my experience from what I have experienced with her. As part of her practice and prenatal visits, she includes group prenatal sessions as part of your checkup. In your group are all the women due within the same month as you. I don’t think you can relate to anyone better to pregnancy than those that are going through the exact same phase as you.
I don’t know if all midwives do this in their practice, but I see a huge advantage to having them. I look at it as an included birthing class to your prenatal care. Without these group sessions, I would have probably felt more of an urge to join an outside birthing course to take before giving birth. Although she still recommends first time mom and dads to attend a birthing course, her group sessions are very informative. Just like any prenatal checkup with a doctor or midwife, you have a prenatal appointment once a month until your third trimester (28 weeks), every other week until 36 weeks typically, and then weekly until birth. At each of these appointments we discuss everything you need to know about pregnancy, baby, birth, and postpartum. By the time it is time to give birth, you should feel well prepared and equipped to the good and possibly ugly that can happen during labor.
Briefly I will discuss what sort of topics we discuss in each session. If you don’t want to know all there is to know about pregnancy, baby, birth, and postpartum this post might not be for you. Not from experience and solely based off of other women’s comments, I find that not a whole lot is shared with you in detail from doctors. I’ve also seen that women are fine with not knowing and just wanting to be told what to do… Or are they? What if some added knowledge allowed you a little extra freedom to get the birth you want. If your birth plan didn’t work out exactly how you thought it would, but knew enough to ask more questions to an alternative plan that still allows some of your requests to happen? In our group sessions, I learn enough to be aware but not too much to be scared.
Session 1: 14-18 weeks pregnant
During this early stage your main focus wants to be about taking care of you, which in turn, takes care of your baby. We discuss the broad spectrum of nutrition: protein, vitamins, herbs, and prenatal exercising, upcoming labs(CBC, Gestational Diabetes, HIV Screen, Antibody Screen) and anatomy scan ultrasound, and purchasing green cleaning products for your home.
One of the things I’ve learned through using an out-of-hospital midwives is our freedom of choice! All midwives are different and all midwives may require different things. My midwife requires us to have the CBC lab done and because I am Rh negative, I had to get the antibody screen. The other labs were optional! Thats right. I did not get tested for gestational diabetes. Thats one of those things that I didn’t care to know. As long as I kept a balanced diet and my blood pressure stayed normal I was fine. Why have the added stress and anxiety of thinking something is wrong with me when everything else shows normal? Maybe that is just me, but unless something was suspected I’m just going to tell myself I don’t have it.
Session 2: 18-22 weeks.
Do you plan to co-sleep? Safe co-sleeping guidelines are discussed this week as well as research done on the benefits of co-sleeping. I did not co-sleep for my own selfish reasons, not based off of research. There is so much information at your finger tips if co-sleeping does sound like a path you want to take.
Breastfeeding. In this session we discuss the basics. For a more hands on and informative approach, it is recommended to join a breastfeeding group and read books to help you hang in there, when it seems like there is no end in sight. I’ve stated before that it is so important to have support when it gets tough. Its going to get tough. Even if your baby latches immediately, stays awake during feeding, and gets all the food she needs solely from nursing it is still tough. Having a support group will encourage you through the season.
Diapers. Disposable or cloth? I never even entertained the idea of cloth diapers. I just always assumed I would use disposable diapers. Doesn’t everyone use them? Cloth diapers is becoming popular again and I was glad to learn about them. I still chose disposable. Mainly for the convenience to fit my lifestyle, but cloth diapering intrigues me.
Our sessions are all about knowing our choices!
Session 3: 22-26 weeks.
Planning Ahead. Who do you want at your birth? What can they do to help? Who can help you postpartum? What can they do to help?
Find a pediatrician. Do they line up with your parenting views? If they were recommended, what about them did the person recommending like? What sort of things do you ask your pediatrician. In our book my midwife gives us, it has a list of questions to ask your pediatrician to further be aware of what you can expect during appointments. Will you agree with their suggestions?
Vaccinations and Circumcision. A very controversial and touchy subject to talk about so I will skip, but in our sessions we discuss the vaccination schedules and a full layout of what vaccinations you can expect at each checkup, questions to ask yourself, and tips to consider. Circumcision rates around the world are discussed, four reasons why circumcisions are performed, and care for the circumcised or uncircumcised.
Session 4: 26-28 weeks
Birth Prep. Having a home birth, we have to start planning the food we will have during labor, order our birth kits and supplies, vitamin K for your baby(shot or oral), a check list of all the things to pack that you may need during and after labor, and reading and preparing for your GBS(Group B Streptococcus) screen.
Session 5: 28-32 weeks
Call the Midwife. When do you know when to call? How do you know if you are in active labor? How far is your travel? Time your contractions. What do you do if your water breaks? Things to expect leading up to your due date. Stages of Labor. How to effectively get through labor as comfortably as you can.
This is such an informative topic that gives you the necessary tools to have a successful unmedicated birth.
Session 6: 30-34 weeks
Complications, This topic isn’t as fun to discuss, but very important to be aware of. Complications can happen no matter where you are giving birth. As little fun as it is to think of any of these things happening to you or your baby, its important to know beforehand rather than being shocked, unable to make conscious decisions, and having anxiety about what happens next.
The comfort I find since having a home birth is the rarity of complications that happen in out-of-hospital births. In this session, we go over the different levels of complications. Level 1 being minor to level 3 needing a transport to the hospital. Even though I expect not to have a transfer, I also see the importance to have a “transport birth plan” for the what if. I’m so thankful to know the reasons I or my baby would need to be transported and the thorough explanation of what I can expect if that were to happen. Having known all of that in advance, should a complication arise I am able to stay calm and know my next steps ahead of time.
I also learned a very interesting thing this week during this session. The difference between an Emergent(Urgent) cesarean and and Emergency(Non-urgent) cesarean. Emergent is when mom and/or baby’s life is in immediate danger which is extremely rare and mom is rushed into the operating room and nobody is allowed to accompany her. Emergency is typically no specific risk to either mom and/or baby (for example: labor not progressing) and prep time is at a slower pace. So next time you hear emergency it may not be as urgent as I sounds. Try to stay calm!
Session 7: 32-36 weeks
Postpartum. Exams, home visits, state tests and procedures performed, newborn assessment record, maternal assessment record, things to look for in your baby days following birth, how to help eliminate jaundice, and mothers postpartum.
With out-of-hospital births, mom and dad play the role of nurses after delivery. For the next 24 hours after delivery, at home, we check babies temperature, respirations, activity level, urine, bowel movements, skin color, and feedings. All things that are monitored at hospitals but in the comfort of your own home.
Session 8: 34-38 weeks
Going past your due date. Nobody wants to go past their due date and its hard to be patient seeing it come and go. The good news is due dates can be off by a couple of weeks! If you have a healthy, low risk pregnancy there is no reason to rush induction. There are so many important things to remember that can allow a more successful birth if you are patient to wait for natural labor. There are some reasons however that may require natural or medical induction. Remember this is one thing in life worth waiting for. Also remember one intervention can lead to a ripple effect of more interventions to follow.
If you get to this season of waiting, take advantage! Relax and pamper yourself, go for walks, swim as much as you can, do yoga, get a massage, listen and dance to music, rest if you want, cuddle on the couch with your kids, trust in your body, just enjoy these last few days, take long baths. The options are endless. Don’t Stress!
So much information covered on this blog. Whether you plan to have a hospital birth, birth center birth, or home birth a lot of these topics are relevant for all. I believe its important to know your options, have a plan, and be educated on what your body can and will go through. Having these group sessions helps me feel prepared as I approach birth and stepping into the new role as “mom”. In my few weeks following birth, I had everything set in place to be able to bond with my baby. All help was lined up and only a phone call away. Having those thoughts resolved gives you more room for love and focusing on the nurturing and schedule of your baby.
Newborn photography : 2b Photography LLC