Things to Do After a Positive Pregnancy Test: Part One
Maybe you’ve been trying or maybe it was a surprise, but you just found out you’re pregnant- CONGRATULATIONS! I remember my first positive pregnancy test… It was only our first attempt at getting pregnant and frankly I think we were both a little surprised it happened so quickly! I remember lying on the master bedroom floor in our tiny little Houston apartment. I was in quiet awe and completely shocked, and my husband couldn’t stop giggling. It was a moment I’ll never forget!
What was the first thing you did when you found out you were pregnant?
I think that, like most moms, one of the first things on my mind was, “I have to find a doctor!” As a newly-pregnant, first-time mom, it is important to find a care provider, but it’s not as easy as just going to the closest hospital or checking to see who your insurance covers (which is what I did!).
One of the first things to do is to find a care provider who practices evidence-based medicine in an environment in which you are comfortable, giving you the best opportunity for the birth experience you want. Let me break that down…
“Find a care provider…” A care provider doesn’t have to be- and maybe even shouldn’t be- an obstetrician. In the Houston area, there are numerous midwives who are educated, experienced, and completely capable of caring for a mother throughout pregnancy, labor, delivery, and postpartum. Midwives can deliver at your home, at a birth center, or at a hospital, and generally view birth as a normal human process instead of something that needs to be “managed.” Of course, there are obstetricians who will treat pregnancy and labor this way too, and midwives who won’t, but one shouldn’t assume either way. You have options! Schedule interviews for midwives and obstetricians and find a care provider who practices evidence-based medicine.
“…Who practices evidence-based medicine…” This means that your care provider uses the most up-to-date studies and evidence to provide individualized care to your specific needs as a pregnant mother. It sounds like something every doctor should be doing, right? Unfortunately it’s easy for providers to fall into habit or treating all mothers the same, or simply defaulting to the easiest way to “manage” a birth, instead of following the evidence. I invite you to check out http://www.improvingbirth.org/ or http://evidencebasedbirth.com/ to educate yourself more on what this means for you.
“..In an environment in which you are comfortable…” Have you considered a home birth? A birthing center? Again, a hospital isn’t your only option! Houstonians have many area birthing centers. And home birth is on the rise because women are educating themselves on the risks-yes I said “risks!”- of birthing in a hospital. So do some serious research before making a final decision on where you want to give birth to your baby. If you decide on a home birth- great! But if you choose to go with a birth center, set up tours and interviews before determining which birth center you’ll choose. If you decide on a hospital, your decision on which hospital you choose may greatly impact the way you labor and deliver. Hospitals have individual policies on what’s “allowed” during labor and delivery, statistics on the number of cesarean sections that are performed, and an environment that generally is or isn’t supportive of med-free labor and delivery. Not only does the hospital you choose impact your birth experience, but it can greatly affect what happens after birth as well, such as if a hospital has a mandatory “nursery time” for babies (in which the baby is removed from the mother for a certain period after birth) or if a hospital encourages mother-baby bonding by “rooming in,” skin-to-skin contact, and breastfeeding. Personally, I feel like if you decide you want to have a hospital birth, I think it’s maybe more important to choose your hospital before deciding which obstetrician/midwife to use! (On the other hand, in Houston, certain midwives only deliver at specific hospitals. Know your choices and options!)
“…Giving you the best opportunity for the birth experience you want.” Finally, what all of this boils down to is are you comfortable? Have you educated yourself about your options in care providers and birthing locations? If you can give a resounding “YES!” and you know that you are most definitely making the right decision for your family, then you are setting yourself up for success, giving you the greatest opportunity to have the birth you want, as defined by you. Every mother has her own opinion and feelings of how her ideal birth will go, and that is good. When you go into labor, you want to be giving birth in the place that will make you the most comfortable and able to relax. For some women that’s at home in their own beds (or bath tubs!) and for other women, that’s in a hospital. To each her own- just make sure that you have given it good thought and research.
If you’re further along into your pregnancy and you’re thinking that you may have made a mistake in choosing your care provider or birthing location, it’s probably not too late to change. You might feel emotionally committed to a care provider but remember- this is your birth- a day you will remember for the rest of your life. For your care provider, it’s just his or her job, and they won’t have their feelings hurt if you decide to switch out of their care! You may have educated yourself on the type of birth you want a little later in your pregnancy, making you realize you didn’t make the best choice for you… I would highly encourage you to reconsider your options and to change your plans to give birth with a care provider and in a place that will make you the most comfortable.
In the end, this day is about you and your baby! By choosing a care provider and a birthing location that allows you the greatest chance at having the birth you desire, you should be relaxed and confident enough to birth your sweet babe knowing you made the best decisions for your family.