I wasn’t online during my first pregnancy and didn’t really spend a lot of time socializing with other pregnant women or mothers so I guess you could say I was blissfully ignorant about some of the controversy surrounding pregnancy and birth.
It wasn’t until my friend, a nurse, started telling me how I should really change my mind about breastfeeding that I realized pregnancy is a mine field of opinions. But you better get used to it because being a parent is a big, sticky ball of controversy thrown at you several times a day whether it’s a disagreement with your spouse over a parenting method or some yayhoo in the park giving you dirty looks about the way you deal with your child.
If this is your first rodeo I figured I’d give you a much-needed heads up about the top issues you’ll encounter on your road to becoming a mother. That way, instead of being ambushed while unarmed, you’ll be locked and loaded, ready to answer any question that unsolicited stranger, annoying acquaintance, friend, your mother-in-law or even your doctor throw your way.
1. Breastfeeding: Like I said, I was stupidly unaware of all the nonsense surrounding whether or not a woman decides to breastfeed. It’s your choice! Do what you feel is best, regardless of what anyone else around you says. I will tell you that I initially didn’t feel comfortable breastfeeding but I did because that friend I mentioned earlier urged me to try. I’m glad I did. I breastfed my daughter for a month and am well into the third month of breastfeeding my son. Nonetheless, don’t let anyone make you feel like less of a mother if you choose not to breastfeed, but be ready to take some crap about it.
2. Drinking while pregnant: I recently wrote about this. I waited until after I had my son though because I didn’t want to deal with the backlash while pregnant. I had a glass or two of beer or wine throughout my third trimester. I’m comfortable with that. So is my doctor. Maybe you aren’t. Either way, it’s a choice many pregnant women have to make so it doesn’t hurt to familiarize yourself with the facts.
3. C-sections: I didn’t realize there was so much controversy surrounding c-sections. In fact, I didn’t even know a lot of women are upset when, for medical reasons, they are advised to get c-sections. My colleague, Danielle, who just underwent a medically necessary c-section, has written extensively on the topic. Until reading her words, I didn’t know c-sections aren’t appealing to many women who want vaginal births. Because so many celebrities, and many women I know personally, schedule c-sections I thought it was just another option for giving birth.
Admittedly, I’m not an expert on the topic but from what I understand, elective c-sections are on the rise and many are concerned that women are flippantly scheduling them around vacations or choosing the right birth date and other trivial considerations. Or that doctors are advising women to undergo unnecessary c-sections. Supporters believe that surgery eliminates the rare but terrifying complications of vaginal delivery that result in birth injuries or even a baby’s death. Other women, who long for vaginal births, are devastated by having to get a c-section. There are many different factors at play so it would behoove you to read up on c-sections so you’re ready to play ball if your health care provider pitches a c-section at any point during your pregnancy and labor.
4. Inductions: As with a c-section, labor is induced for many reasons ranging from convenience to medically necessary. Birth has proven to be safest when allowed to happen on its own time so many advocate letting nature take its course. Your baby will be born when he/she is ready. I chose to induce, both times because my cervix was nearly 100% effaced and I was dilating. Some women choose to induce even before then, using creams to help soften their cervix. Just as with c-sections, there are many arguments for and against induction and you should definitely understand why. Chances are, it’s going to come up.
My first time around I had no clue how controversial inductions are. I had gone to my 39 week appointment and my doctor asked if I wanted to have the baby that night. Okay! So we got induced. It wasn’t until I was deciding – at 40 weeks – whether or not to induce with my second child that I realized that a lot of people consider Pitocin, the drug they use to induce labor, to be poison or that, by inducing, I was yanking my son from the womb before he was ready. Because I was already dilating and effacing, I was comfortable with the induction and had fantastic experiences both times.
5. Epidurals: Oh how naive I was. My mother had all four children naturally. Throughout my childhood I often heard her talk about how painful it was and how lucky women are now to have the option of an epidural. Most movies I’d seen portray women in agonizing pain, screaming for the epidural and then blessedly stoned. As far as I was concerned, an epidural was the only way to go. I didn’t realize that there are millions of women who opt for natural birth, who will tell you that an epidural is dangerous, even. It can be. Some epidurals affect women weirdly. I’ve seen situations where an epidural only numbs half the body, where an epidural made the woman sick with a migraine for weeks afterward and I’ve also seen and experienced an epidural being the best thing ever. After being dilated to only a three and straight up wanting to die, I cannot fathom wanting to experience anything more. However, Heather Armstrong’s birth story nearly made a pretty convincing argument to give birth a try au naturel. But alas, it was not for me. Epidural all the way, baby.
It’s important to remember that pregnancies are like snowflakes: no two are alike. Your experience is yours alone and it’s up to you to inform yourself so that you can make educated decisions about what is best for you and your baby. The more you know, the better you’ll feel, especially when someone *cough* (mother-in-law) *cough* challenges those decisions. You will be ready. Good luck!
Are there other big time issues I’m missing? Add them to the comments section!