Now that I’m pregnant with Baby #2, I’m back in the world of pregnancy and birth prep – somewhere I lived very happily during my pregnancy with Maggie. I’m starting to dig back into some of the resources we used for her pregnancy and birth, and thought I’d share about some of those here in case it’s helpful for someone else navigating this life stage.
(Disclaimer: These are the resources we chose to use during our pregnancy and birth, but the most important thing is to choose resources that are right for YOU. It might make more sense or even be necessary for you to see an OB-GYN, and your birth goals may look very different from mine. This is just me sharing my experience.)
Kevin and I used both a midwife and a doula during my pregnancy and delivery with Maggie (well, technically the doula didn’t make it to Maggie’s unexpectedly fast birth, but that’s another story you can find here), and since then I’ve had conversations with lots of women who are curious to learn more about these two resources. Why might you choose to work with a midwife versus an OB-GYN, and what’s the role of a doula, exactly? This has become such a popular topic, in fact, that I’ve written about it for Zulily’s blog if you want to check out that post, too, for more details about the key differences between the two! Personally, I think it’s a great idea to work BOTH a midwife and doula, because they serve different roles.
(A quick differentiator: A midwife is a heath care provider who can give prenatal care – along with other gynecological care unrelated to pregnancy – and who can deliver your baby. A doula is there to offer prenatal, birth, and postpartum support to moms and families, and their focus is on YOU rather than the medical elements of the process. They help you navigate the birth experience and offer resources to help you stay calm and focused along the way.)
I’ll also share a few other resources that were extremely helpful for me during my pregnancy with Maggie, and which I’m already using again or plan to implement with this pregnancy as well.
It’s funny to look back on my mindset and awareness when I found out I was pregnant with Maggie versus toward the end of my pregnancy with her. I learned a TON along the way, and thankfully was able to surround myself with a wonderful team to help me feel ready for what was ahead (or as ready as you CAN feel for birth…).
When I found out I was pregnant with Maggie, I didn’t know much at all about midwives or doulas, nor did I even think to look into resources like those. I assumed we’d go to my traditional OB-GYN practice and that those providers would help us know what to expect for birth. (Honestly, I initially didn’t give much thought at all about what that birth might look like. I think I assumed we’d take a brief birth class through the hospital and learn the nuts and bolts, then just figure it out as we went.) You just kind of show up to the hospital and they walk you through it, right? (That was my assumption!) I had a close friend who’d had unmedicated births with both of her daughters and part of me was curious about that, but I didn’t know what that might look like or how to go about preparing for it.
My mindset really started to change, though, when I began listening to the podcast The Birth Hour. It’s a podcast dedicated to sharing birth stories, and it opened my eyes to that fact that there was so much CHOICE associated to pregnancy and birth. (Fun fact: After Maggie’s birth, I even got to be a guest and share my birth experience on the podcast!) It was fascinating to hear each guest tell her story, and no two were exactly the same. Through those stories, I learned about different birth options (a tub, a home birth, etc.) as well as helpful resources that are outside of the traditional ones (long-term birth classes, a doula, placenta encapsulation, etc.).
Quickly, I went from being pretty go-with-the-flow about this whole pregnancy thing to being much more involved with the experience. I realized I really did want to try for an unmedicated birth (note: it ended up being an incredibly empowering experience, and I can’t wait to try going that route again this time), and I started to understand what would be helpful preparation for that goal. We were going to need an experienced support team – after all, we were new to this whole pregnancy and birth thing! Kevin and I hired a doula and also signed up for a 12-week Bradley Method birth class through that local doula group (Natural Baby Doulas), and that class really started to shift things for us.
For one, it helped both Kevin and me feel so much more ready for what to expect when it came to pregnancy and birth. We gained insight into what different birth experiences and outcomes could look like, how to advocate for ourselves (what was more optional versus a must-do in the hospital, for example), ways to cope during labor, and tons more. Taking the class also led us to switch from our traditional OB-GYN practice to a midwifery practice more than halfway through my pregnancy. (Yes – you CAN switch providers, even later in the game than I did!)
Thanks to that birth class, I also began seeing a chiropractor during about my third trimester, and we worked together to make sure my body was aligned as well as possible for Maggie’s upcoming birth. I haven’t started seeing a chiropractor again yet with this pregnancy (I’m 21 weeks right now), but I plan to soon. I know it made a difference last time!
Kind of along the lines of a chiropractor, in that it was connected to physical prep, I know a big factor in my feeling great during my pregnancy was continuing to take Pure Barre classes throughout. It’s a low-impact workout that’s safe during pregnancy, and I credit it with helping me feel strong (and sane!!) all of those 42 weeks.
Getting tips on things like seeing a chiropractor during pregnancy was a huge benefit of working with a doula. They’re so plugged in to the local pregnancy and birth community, and so they have the best recommendations to share. They recommended a wonderful acupuncturist for me to see toward the end of my pregnancy when we were trying to encourage Maggie to be born, as well as the BEST prenatal massage therapist (who I credit with FINALLY getting my labor to kickstart at 41 weeks, 6 days).
Doulas can also help with birth-related things like placenta encapsulation (I got this done with Maggie!), birth classes, breastfeeding support, and more. When I was soooo overdue in my pregnancy with Maggie, our doulas were amazing to help keep us from feeling anxious and to give us things to do to help progress things. So far this pregnancy, I’ve already been on the phone with our doula a couple of times to talk through some of my feelings this time around, as they’ve been harder to navigate. I’m so glad to have their support.
We really noticed a difference when we switched to a midwife group as well. For one, Kevin commented that he felt so much more included in conversations with our midwives than he did with our OB-GYNs. They are often much more open to working with patients who have specific birth goals, too. For example, Maggie was induced when I was 42 weeks pregnant (full term is 40 weeks), and I feel confident that a traditional OB-GYN wouldn’t have let my pregnancy progress that far. It was also amazing because our midwife was in the room with us the WHOLE time I was in labor (which isn’t the case with most OB-GYNs).
(Semi-unrelated: If you don’t yet watch Call The Midwife on Netflix, you NEED to. It’s one of my very favorite shows.)
We ended up in the BEST hands with both our midwives and our doulas, and thanks to them had the most wonderful pregnancy and birth experience I could have hoped for. I knew I wanted a great team surrounding us, and we got just that. (Needless to say, we’re using the same midwife and doula groups for this pregnancy, too!)
If you’ve used a midwife and/or a doula during your pregnancy, birth, or postpartum, I’d love to hear what your experience was! Did you feel like you were in good hands? Would you do it again?