Knowing how to spot good maternity care is the key to getting it.
There are countless places on the Internet with information about being pregnant – this is probably not the first website you’ve visited! With so much information about pregnancy and birth available, how do you separate fact from fiction?
Let Labor Begin on Its Own: The research around induction of labor has become so convincing that many hospitals are clamping down on inductions that don’t have a strong, compelling medical reason. But not everyone has caught up with the research yet. Be wary of induction that’s suggested because your baby is “measuring big,” you’re a few days past your due date, or your mom wants to schedule her travel. For the best chance at a healthy baby and healthy mom, it’s best to let your baby and your body tell you when it’s time.
Bring a Loved One, Friend or Doula for Continuous Support: Doctors, midwives and nurses work hard to meet the needs of their patients. But few women find a care provider who will stay by their side throughout labor. A continuous support person, such as your partner or a doula, can help you feel safer and more comfortable, and help your labor progress.
Avoid Unnecessary Interventions: Many interventions may seem like they would make childbirth easier, but they can have unintended consequences and can make birth more difficult and less safe. Knowing the difference between something that’s medically necessary and something that’s done purely out of “routine” can help you feel equipped to partner with your care provider in making important decisions.
Avoid Giving Birth on Your Back, and Follow Your Body’s Urges to Push: The last birth you saw was probably a Hollywood portrayal of labor, with a woman giving birth on her back in a hospital bed. But, did you know that you don’t have to be on your back when you give birth and wait for your care provider to tell you when to push? During pushing, ease your baby down and out when and how your body tells you to and choose the positions for birth that are the most comfortable for you. By responding to what you are feeling, you will make birth easier and safer for you and your baby.
Keep Mother and Baby Together – It’s Best for Mother, Baby and Breastfeeding: During pregnancy, you and your little one were inseparable. Continuing that important connection after birth is best for you and your healthy baby. Skin-to-skin contact helps your healthy baby stay warm, cry less, and be more likely to breastfeed. In fact, interrupting, delaying, or limiting the time that you spend together may have a harmful effect on your relationship and on successful breastfeeding.
Like other areas of health care, maternity care leaves a lot of room for improvement. There’s often a gap between the care that’s been proven best and healthiest, and the care women and their babies actually receive in pregnancy and birth. Have you experienced this disconnect? Read some personal stories about how parents pushed for better.