Placentas/Doulas/Birth Plans: The Baby Will Still Come Even If You Don't Eat/Hire/Create ThemMeredith Carroll
I’m the first person to say (often) that I’m not professionally pregnant. In fact, in about seven weeks (or less, I suppose), I will be done with being pregnant for, like, ever. And in some ways I’ll miss being pregnant — I think there is no greater or literal closeness than carrying around a life you created in your belly and feeling those little movements at random intervals.
On the other hand, I’m sort of thrilled to be almost ready to wash my hands of pregnancy. Not just because it now takes a village to get on my shoes each day or because I can’t remember the last time I could even see my shoes without some sort of reflective device.
No, I’ll be happy to be done with my pregnancy so I can stop feeling sort of bad that I don’t plan to fry and eat my placenta (how do you broach that subject with your OB, by the way? “Oh, and if you could just put the placenta in this Tupperware and leave it in the fridge my room when you’re done, that’d be great?”) or even bury it or set it out to sea. I also won’t be hiring a doula or a midwife. And the only birth plan I have is that I plan to give birth to a baby.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a minimalist pregnancy, labor and delivery, but the more stuff I read, the worse I occasionally feel about my parenting skills before I’m even a parent (again).
I can honestly say I don’t know anyone personally who’s ever eaten or even given any thought to her placenta. I overheard one woman talking about hers once at a barbecue, but I honestly thought she was joking or drunk when she talked about some kind of burial ceremony for it. I’m all for honoring my pregnancy, which is why I’ve started a book with memories and keepsakes of this finite time in my life for my daughter to look back on one day. But other than a possible ink print of her foot, there will be nothing biological about it.
I guess in some ways I wish I could afford a baby nurse to help me out when I get home from the hospital since I’ll be recovering from a c-section while caring for a newborn and a 3-year-old, but I feel there are better ways to spend my money right now and I can just make do like I did last time (plus, since I plan on nursing, I’ll still have to get up in the middle of the night anyway, so since I can’t hire someone to sleep for me, I don’t quite see the point).
I know plenty of people who’ve hired baby nurses and doulas, and have been told that doulas act as a mom’s advocate in the hospital and beyond, but I can happily report that my doctors and nurses as well as the lactation specialists at the hospital have historically been exceptional advocates on my behalf, so I can walk into the labor, delivery and postpartum process with at least a glass half full kind of attitude.
And then there’s the birth plan. My plan is to give birth. It’s not too much more complicated than that. I don’t want to listen to any music. I don’t want to create any specific kind of atmosphere or contingency plan other than one that includes sanitation and safety. I also don’t want any more steps than necessary. I trust that my OB delivers tons of babies (and delivered my first one just fine) and that she’ll guide me through the process however she thinks it should go. I have an opinion about lots and lots (and lots) of things, but how my baby enters the world will be 100 percent decided by people who were awarded degrees on how to do it best.
When I read stuff about other people’s plans for placentas and labor assistance, my first thought is to wonder where they find the time to worry about it all. Between work, my toddler and preparing for bringing home another baby, I barely have time to fall asleep — if there were more hours in the day to plan, believe me, I would use them.
I also find that some of the stuff I read about birth plans and the like assume that if you’re not thinking about them or doing it, then you’re not as into your pregnancy as other women, and that that’s necessarily a bad thing. I’m all for being as educated and informed as possible, but the bottom line is that this is the one time in my life that I’m happy to just let go and not overthink anything.
For me, pregnancy is about the destination, not really the journey. While I’m marking down significant dates and events (positive pee stick, first ultrasound photo, first kick), the majority of the baby book will be filled after my baby arrives.
I certainly don’t knock other women for serving up their placenta with a side of fava beans, enlisting the aid of a doula, or mapping out their labor and delivery to the nth degree, but I’ll be relieved once the whole pregnancy process is over and I was (hopefully) able to get through it with a minimal amount of stuff to do. I feel like giving birth is one of the few times in my life I can relax and leave it up to the experts. And since I’m not one, I don’t think I should have too much say in such an important matter.
Do you feel pressure to take extra steps in your pregnancy, or are you comfortable taking a back seat in the adventure?
Image: Creative Commons
Read about one woman’s birth plan gone wrong, and how she reacted