What is Prenatal Preparation?

I received a call yesterday from a good friend and someone who I adore. It was my acupuncturist Dr. Gurusahay Khalsa. He was sadly telling me that due to restrictions in his insurance he can no longer see a patient for the first time for acupuncture. Often times we send our clients there when they have a breech baby and need help turning this baby. He mentioned it would be better if they had already been seeing him along their journey. I totally agreed! And it got me thinking about prenatal care and preparation.

When someone becomes pregnant they seek out the care provider they will see for prenatal care. But really they needed to be seeing a good midwife or physician prior to becoming pregnant to make sure their health was good – taking folic acid prior to becoming pregnant- watching their diet, being clear of medications that could harm a developing fetus, etc. This is the pre- prenatal care that insures a safe and healthy pregnancy. But we all believe a good provider found early in pregnancy is essential. But what else is essential?

So, I thought I would share what I would consider a wonderful path to prenatal care and preparation.

  • First I would seek the care of a midwife if I wanted a non interventive birth and was healthy. There are a handful of doctors who practice holistic care and they are wonderful alternatives to a great midwife. There are some midwives who practice like the most interventive physician as well- so all care providers are not created equal.If you would be considered high risk, a physician may be a good choice. But keep in mind what some consider to make you high risk may not be risky at all to others. for instance I have supported women as their doula who were in their early 40’s and were being seen by a midwife.
  • I would choose a care provider based on where they practice hospital wise if choosing to birth at a hospital versus home. There are a lot of hospitals in our area- and they offer different options. Don’t expect that all hospitals are created equal in respect to what you are “allowed” to do for your birth experience. For instance in our area there are only two hospitals that offer water birth- AMC and North Fulton. You may not initially be interested in a water birth- but this could change as you learned more about it. At least it would then be an option to consider.
  • I would take an early pregnancy class. If you do not know what kinds of questions to ask and what options you may want- then it makes it hard to have those options later if you did not ask or know what your choices could be. I would try to find a class that was offered by an independent person- not paid by the hospital itself.
  • I would begin, if you had not already done so, to seek some alternative therapies that would keep your body in the best condition for the pregnancy.
    • I would seek a great massage therapist who was familiar with the pregnant body.
    • I would seek a good chiropractor who also knew the webster technique to help you stay in perfect alignment and know what to do if your baby did not!
    • I would seek the skills of an acupuncturist to keep my balance and help to harmonize my  life energy during this important time.
    • I would consider seeing a naturopath to help me understand the things I could do to help keep myself healthy and in case I became sick to understand safe alternatives to the allopathic medicine path.
  • I would try to start eating organic and move my diet into the healthier range if I was not already doing so.
  • I would seek out some great pregnancy exercise classes- prenatal yoga, prenatal dance, belly dancing, walking, swimming, etc.
  • I would take childbirth and breastfeeding classes early enough in my pregnancy to be able to practice and absorb the ideas that can change the “garbage in garbage out” situation we often are in listening to others share their horror stories and give us erroneous information. The mind body connection is imperative for a fearless birth experience.
  • I would seek the support of a doula. The studies are in- they do make a difference- big time!
  • I would read a few great books to help me prepare for the birth and even more books to help me prepare for parenting.
  • I would attend La Leche League meetings in my second trimester.

In doing these things often we will find a core of new friendships that will help us in those early months as a new parent.

Ironically folks do not do most of the stuff in the previous paragraph. But folks believe that a fit pregnancy and healthy outcome just happen. As a doula I would attest that most of the time those who follow the true prenatal preparation path have better outcomes. So, just as you follow guidelines from your doctor or midwife to follow their guidelines for your diet and medication- consider that there is more to prenatal preparation than the selection of your care provider.

So, don’t limit your thinking when it comes to what prenatal care and preparation really means. A healthier mom produces a healthier baby and has a more gentle outcome for herself and her baby.