We all know that well informed pregnancy can lead to great decision making and an empowered birth.
After all, the phrases like, “knowledge is power” and “When you don’t know your options, you don’t have any” are ones we hear all the time in the birth world.
These phrases underscore the importance of a well informed pregnancy.
While knowledge may be power for some, for others ignorance is truly bliss. For me, this concept played out in my own pregnancies.
I had my first baby when I was very young.
- I had no childbirth education.
- There was no internet access.
- I did no independent reading or research on my own.
Yet even with a baby who was born direct OP, I had a positive birth experience.
- I never worried about the baby.
- I never worried about the pregnancy.
- I actually didn’t even give any thought to the actual birth.
- I wasn’t fearful or concerned.
My second pregnancy and birth a few years later were much the same.
Eleven years later I was pregnant with my third.
I’d been a doula for many years by that time and that pregnancy was a whole different experience…
- Could my baby have an undetected birth defect?
- What about the dangers of ultrasound?
- Should I get an ultrasound to look for birth defects?
- Will I get the birth experience I want? This was a big one for me.
It was during this well informed pregnancy that I had my first bout with anxiety and panic.
Actually this pregnancy is where it all started. It turns out it was the precursor to what would become a diagnosis of anxiety and panic disorder a decade or so later.
As an experienced doula with over a hundred births under my belt, to say I was informed would be an understatement. I had spent years researching every variation and complication my clients encountered. While no one will ever know it all, I knew a lot. I was the “go-to” person that other doulas turned to when they encountered a situation they’d never seen before.
Nine times out of ten, I had tangible answers, studies, and resources to point them and in turn their clients, to a well informed pregnancy.
I began my prenatal care with a hospital-based midwife that I had a good relationship with. At 20 weeks I transferred care to a homebirth midwife.
I continued to have mild panic attacks throughout the remainder of my well informed pregnancy.
On my due date, I risked out of my homebirth. My midwife wanted me to go to our university hospital, but I wasn’t having it. Instead, I made an appointment with one of the OBs that I loved and we agreed that it was time to induce due to my blood pressure and amount of protein in my urine.
Long story short, we did labs, it was bad.
My kidneys and liver were failing and my blood pressure was now soaring with regularity into the 160s over 90s.
I negotiated not getting magnesium sulfate unless my blood pressure continued to climb. Eleven hours later I gave birth to my baby, vaginally and without pain medication.
Here’s the thing, knowledge won’t erase fear, worry, and anxiety for everyone.
For many, it can make it worse. Others may find that indeed knowledge is power. As doulas, our job is not to assume which approach is best for a client.
Well informed pregnancy is not for everyone…
Instead, we must attune to their needs. Understand how they communicate. Discern how they best receive information, and most importantly, find out what information they are interested in and then provide it.
It’s important that we remember that each client comes to decision-making from a different perspective.
- Juanita prefers to follow her gut.
- Sam likes to learn about the choices that friends and family have made before making their decision.
- Tara likes to research every detail of a potential decision before deciding what is best for them.
- Jo is cautious and feels that the best decisions are made with the guidance and suggestions of their provider.
Here at ProDoula one of the cornerstones of our labor and postpartum & infant care doula training is learning to identify how a client prefers to make decisions.
We know that once these preferences have been established, the doula client relationship is enhanced and the requested information can be communicated in the manner that the client will receive best.
Check out our current workshops and invest in quality doula training today!
Authored by: Angela Horn