While you’re doing the hard work of nurturing the growth of a tiny human, who do you have taking care of you? Your OBGYN or midwife is one player on an all star team you get to select for this journey.
A birth and/or postpartum doula makes a fabulous addition to a birth team. An experienced doula will have supported parents in all types of settings – home births, hospital births, cesarean births, single parents, lgbt parents, full term pregnancies, premature births, multiples, and losses. They are an incredible resource when it comes to supporting you and your family in this process. And if an experienced doula is out of your budget, you might consider a new doula who is being formally mentored by a senior doula. The presence of a doula has been linked to a significant decrease in unwanted interventions and procedures during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum.
Another invaluable team member to consider is a childbirth educator. Childbirth educators will teach you and a support person (ie, partner, friend, family member) what to expect during labor and early postpartum. While the path to parenthood is a natural process, if you haven’t experienced it first hand before, it might be good to brush up on some of the details. Like when does labor actually start? What’s the difference between losing your mucus plug and your water breaking? What’s colostrum and when does it get replaced with milk? And how much food does a two day old actually need? Childbirth education can be taught as a private class or as a group class, and is available in a variety of settings ranging from your home to the hospital you plan birth at.
An acupuncturist trained in obstetrics will round out your medical care. Acupuncture can often relieve common pregnancy problems like nausea, back pain, insomnia, and swelling.
People might tell you that you just have to bear it and carry on because these are “normal” pregnancy symptoms. But your acupuncturist can help you use acupuncture, nutrition, and herbs to come up with a personalized plan to make your pregnancy as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.
And as you get closer to your estimated due date, your acupuncturist will help you create the ideal conditions for your body to prepare for the birth. Whether you’re planning on a totally natural birth, an epidural, induction, and/or cesarean, regular acupuncture in the third trimester invites your body to get into peak condition for a smooth birth and healthy postpartum.
A Prenatal massage therapist can help you throughout each of your trimesters. The health of your uterus and it’s ligaments will assist you in avoiding common complications such as incontinence, prolapse, scar tissue (especially with caesarean) and future fertility issues. Prenatal massage does more than benefit the mother. Everything a pregnant woman does from her diet and fitness to her relaxation and relative state of contentment – also directly affects the child she is carrying. Study after study has proven that calmness in the mother leads to healthier baby development.
Every pregnancy is unique. Having a community to share those joys and challenges with can nourish you through the prenatal period. Sure your mother in law, your neighbor, and your co-workers might have plenty of “advice” that they can (and will!) share with you, but being surrounded by a group of people who are going through pregnancy right now is an entirely different kind of perspective. These days finding a pregnancy focussed community is easier with the help of Google, Instagram, and Facebook. In NYC we’re fortunate to have enough community spaces that you can pick and choose based on your interests and location. For folks in places with fewer local options, there are lots of active online communities to connect with.
These are the folks you can depend on when questions come up or if you encounter challenges along the path. Drafting your dream team early on in pregnancy means that when things do pop up you’ll know just where and who to turn to for a helping hand.