Preparation is Key

Photo credits:  Hannah Bjorndal

Photo credits: Hannah Bjorndal

When I walked into the Sociology of Birth and Death class at American University 10 years ago, I walked in with my mind made up that if I ever got pregnant, I would deliver in a hospital with a scheduled c-section. Throughout the course, I heard stories from moms who delivered naturally and those who had c-sections; listened to life experiences from doulas, midwives, and surgeons; and watched documentaries on the birthing “business” and home births. By the end of the course, I was convinced I wanted a natural, unmedicated home birth experience.

My husband and I had decided that if I got pregnant now, we were ready. But I didn’t expect it to happen so soon! When I missed 2 menstrual cycles, an ultrasound confirmed that I was 8+ weeks pregnant. I remember crying uncontrollably and laughing at the same time in my husbands arms when the technician handed us the images. When I got home, I started to research everything I wanted for my birth plan.

Here’s the thing I realized: I was fortunate to have taken an unbiased class years ago that informed me on my options. So when it came time to put together a plan, I knew where to begin. Nowadays, most women believe that their only option is a hospital and an OB. And if they’ve heard of any other option, like a home birth or midwife, those options have been portrayed in a negative light by media and others who refused to go the route.

My advice to all moms-to-be is whether or not you have a birth plan in mind, do your research. Look at the pros and cons of your plan, weigh it against other options, and choose what you believe is best for you and your baby. Everyone’s birth experience is different, so don’t base your decision solely on your best friend’s experience. To have the best experience, it’s important to take time to prepare if that is within your means to do. Talk to other mothers and join mommy groups - even if it’s on FB. Interview OBs, midwives, and doulas before making selections. Take free classes at Babies R Us and talk to lactation consultants. Visit hospitals and birth centers. Delivery day is unpredictable, and your plan may have to be thrown out the window that day, but you at least have some background to quickly decide on another one. While the preparation process can seem overwhelming, it is the key to laying a solid foundation for your experience.

When I told people I wanted to do a natural, unmedicated home birth, you can’t even imagine the “are you crazy?!” looks I got. But because I was well prepared, I was able to defend my stance, if needed, and I wasn’t moved. I stuck to my decision. 

While the home birth didn’t pan out due to our delayed move-in, I was still able to have an unmedicated natural delivery - thanks to prayers, planning, and my support system!

A special thanks to Hannah for an incredible maternity shoot!