Location, Location, Location

Your birth location is the single biggest factor in determining the type of procedures you experience in childbirth. The choices you make prenatally will have a big impact on birth outcomes. I suggest you interview a few different types of care provider  hospital or birth-center based midwives, family practice doctors, home birth midwives, and obstetricians; even if you love your current provider personality-wise. Think about why you love your provider. Is it the sense of humor, is she patient with you, do you feel respected?  Are they talking the talk and walking the walk? If your provider says you can birth in the water, but has never actually attended a birth without an epidural, chances are that you are not having a water birth! Even if they are close to your home and even if you are late in your pregnancy. See who answers your questions. Ask about what percentage of their patients have the types of birth you want. The type of birth you don't want. People spend lots of time researching a car, a food processor, even a camera! Your baby and your body deserve at least that much. Women rate their births as the most memorable events of their lives  - make it a beautiful memory.

Women's bodies are created to carry, birth and nurture a baby, but we are often laboring under conditions that don't support our bodies' ability to do so. If you will most likely be attended with highly technical care, it's important that you learn about that technology; pros and cons.  It is also really important for you to learn your rights and ask specific questions about your birth facility's rules or restrictions. They may be different than your care providers personal beliefs. In particular, routine (non-emergency) inductions, iv's, continuous fetal montioring, episiotomies, laboring in anti-gravity positions (ie  flat on your back),  being prevented from eating and drinking in labor and prevention of tub or shower use are practices that are still very common and not proven to improve birth outcomes  many studies illustrate their harm. We have thankfully come away from the shave and enema, but we still have lots to improve. Why would you want to give birth in restrictive ways if the medical evidence doesn't support the need for it? 

It is not my place, or my wish, to tell you where and how to give birth. In the end I think women are best off birthing where they feel safe, but it's important for that safety to come from information. Your mother/sister/friend etc. may be very comfortable with a practitioner that is totally wrong for you. It is my hope that women inform their guts with up-to-date information, and that their own opinions, more than any family member or friend's pre-conceived notions, become the deciding factor. Birth can be a loaded issue for everyone who has experience in the matter. 

Welcome to the world of parenthood. Perfect strangers on the street will walk up to you with unsolicited advice, and everyone thinks their choices were best. Perhaps there is no best - just the right match for each person. Now is a good time to learn about your perspective on pregnancy, birth, and child-rearing. You are likely to be shocked by what you learn about common and not-so-common care practices.

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