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At my doctor's appointment to confirm my first pregnancy, I was asked who I planned to see for my maternity care. And honestly, I really hadn't thought about it.
I mean "a doctor or midwife" seemed like too obvious of an answer. I stuttered out a response about "taking some time to research" and "meeting a few options" before collecting my things and leaving with a promise to make an appointment around the 10 week mark.
In that time I started to talk to my friend Christine who had just had a home birth with a midwife. The hippie-ness intrigued me. After all, I was living in Portland at the time and thanks to my immersion there I was slowly but surely becoming more and more hippie each day. We messaged back and forth for hours. Her father was an OB for years in Sweden and as I considered my birth options here in the States I learned so much about what other developing countries deem normal when it comes to pregnancy and birth, which led me to more questions.
By the time I was nearing week 10 in my pregnancy I knew I needed to schedule a few meet and greets and make a final decision. On the docket was an OB my regular doctor had recommended, a midwife who worked out of the hospital close to my home and two other midwives who provided either birth center or home birth care.
We worked our way through potential providers, making pro and con lists as most college business majors were taught to do. We liked that the OB was covered by my insurance, not that I loved the gamble of seeing seven different providers from their office at any given appointment and then again, a mystery appearance at our baby's birth. But a practically free birth? That's pretty convincing.
Following the mainstream or what your sister did or what your coworkers think is smartest isn't always the best choice for you.
We liked that the hospital midwife was a middle ground of Eastern and Western medicine, but not that her practice had somewhat of a high C-section rate. But, she had such a blend of possibilities—being both naturally minded with all the benefits and security of the hospital.
The birth center and home birth midwives intrigued us most of all. It seemed so different, but at the same time special. Almost reverent. Birth work made these ladies glow. And in return, our excitement over becoming parents flourished. Our appointments with each non-hospital midwife was an hour long and they asked us just as many questions as we asked them. Their model of care was empowering. We were parents. Us, parents! They made it clear that it was our job to research and make decisions with the guidance of the expert we chose to assist us in welcoming our baby to the world.
I won't share our final decision. That's the whole point. What was right for me, might not be right for you. Your health history is yours alone, your road to conception the same. Your partner will have their own voice in the decision and your baby may require certain needs that you're in charge of advocating for. Following the mainstream or what your sister did or what your coworkers think is smartest isn't always the best choice for you.
Right after you get that positive pregnancy test, begin your research. You are a parent now. Your baby deserves the time and attention and you do too! It can feel overwhelming, but being a mom is a real job, a meaningful one and one that begins months before a sweet baby is cradled in your arms.
Choosing a maternity care provider is the most important choice you will make during your pregnancy. They guide your care in ways you can't imagine and teach you things you wouldn't otherwise learn. Sometimes they will sway your original opinion or spur you towards more research. That's why you need someone who will be your partner and advocate; someone who understands that you are the leader in caring for your child, first during pregnancy and then for the rest of their lives.
The bottom line? Choose your team of experts wisely.