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“If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any.” A Good Birth, A Safe Birth - Diana Korte and Roberta Scaer

In light of all the technology in today’s birth culture, many first time parents are left to wonder…

How do I make the choices that are right for me?  How do I understand what choices I am making?

When making choices you need to ask yourself these questions:
1. What is involved in this procedure/ medication/ restriction? As with any test, you want to know exactly what your doctor or midwife plans to do, including how it will feel.
2. What are the benefits? To you and to baby.
3. What are the risks or drawbacks? How commonly do they occur?
4. Will this procedure or medication or restriction require the need for others, or can it lead to others? Like tipping the first domino in the row, one intervention tends to lead to another.
5. What are my alternatives, including doing nothing?
6. What are the advantages and disadvantages of those alternatives?

Your primary care giver should be more than willing to answer these questions. The choices they offer you are limited to their values and personal opinions. Thankfully, the Internet has allowed many expectant parents to expand their learning beyond their doctor, midwife and the few hand me down books that prevail on almost every expectant woman’s bookshelf.

Speaking of books…before you go out and buy that book that you heard about, look it up. Determine if that particular philosophy works along side your values and the preconceived choices you think you may like to pursue during labor. Examples are Vicki Iovines’ “The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy” states “epidurals are great”, and there is a “misunderstood notion” to think there is risk to the baby. Suzanne Arms is on the other end of the spectrum with her “Immaculate Deception” which takes on a much deeper context of what birth can mean to a woman. A nice middle ground is anything by Sheila Kitzinger. Research your options from sources like WebMD, or any other online medical periodicals (medical libraries at your local hospital are also open to the public).

Internet support boards are wonderful too. If you want both sides of an issue though, a debate board is the best place to go. Do not expect support for the choice that is least popular though, but do expect the research, as well as anecdotes, to fly!

Make the best choice with solid information and you will not be saying, “I wish I knew that before” or “It will be different next time”. Make the first time count.

Patricia Blomme RN, a married mother of 5 (including twins!) is a Certified Perinatal Nurse, childbirth educator/consultant, and doula. She has a private practice in Calgary, Alberta focusing on helping families to have the best birth possible.

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