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I’m really excited to start writing more about pregnancy and postpartum every week!! I have experienced a lot in my three pregnancies and almost three postpartum periods and I have a lot to share!
When I was pregnant with my first I didn’t know anything about pregnancy! And I didn’t know what I didn’t know, so it was all just a shot in the dark. But four years and (almost) three babies later, I’ve got a much better idea of what to expect and how to take care of myself. And how to advocate for myself.
Sometimes pregnancy books are great and sometimes the best experience is life experience. But if you’ve never been pregnant before the best way to learn about pregnancy can be from other women!
My goal is to share my experiences and lessons so that other women can learn from my mistakes! And to share what went well, too.
This week I am going to spend some time talking about advocating for your needs (and wants) during pregnancy. Specifically with your doctor and medical care team. OB doctors are great! They’re experts and they spent a long time learning how to care for women and babies. I have nothing against them and for the most part I follow their advice to the letter.
But every now and again I might disagree with my doctor and I’ve had to learn how to advocate for my own needs and wishes. Even if I don’t disagree with them, there have been times when I just need to speak up and ask questions or express concerns.
Learning to advocate for yourself to your doctor is important whether you are pregnant or not. But especially during pregnancy, don’t be afraid to speak up!
What I have learned in three pregnancies is how to advocate for what I truly want and when it’s important to let the doctor be your expert guide. There’s a delicate balance to it, but I’m much happier with the care I receive now than the care I’ve received in the past. And the care isn’t that different, it’s me and my understanding of my wishes that’s different.
Whether you’re a first time mom or you’re on your sixth baby, advocating for yourself is important. So let’s dive into my top tips on how to advocate to your doctor during pregnancy!
**Let’s just take a quick moment to acknowledge that I am not a doctor or a medical professional. I am a mom who has done this before. My advice is purely anecdotal and should be taken as such. This advice is not meant to, nor should it, replace the advice of a medical professional.**
Educate Yourself on Pregnancy
The most important element to advocating for yourself is education. You have to know what options are available to you. When I was pregnant with my first I didn’t know much. I’m pretty sure if the doctor had told me to drink pickle juice and say a chant every day I would have done it!
But with my second pregnancy I did a lot more reading. I learned about options. Like, did you know if you have a c-section you can request a gentle c-section? A gentle c-section might look different in each hospital, but for me it meant I got to hold Nugget as soon as he was born! I had no idea that was even a thing!!! With Bubbaloo it was nearly 5 minutes before I saw him and I didn’t get to hold him until I was out of surgery.
Had I not done reading and learned my options, I would have never known to ask if I could have a gentle c-section. Looking back I’m really glad I did, being awake while the doctor sews you up is much cooler with a tiny newborn snuggled on your chest!
Educate yourself on what your options are. You might be surprised at what your doctor and hospital offer for care. And read plenty of anecdotal advice, I learned a ton from other women!
Find Your Comfort Level
Once you’re educated about options it’s up to you to decide what your comfort level is. I don’t love all of the shots they give my newborn, but I’m very much pro-vaccine. And I don’t feel comfortable (for many reasons) turning down a vaccination. So I don’t. That’s my comfort level.
Everyone will have a different comfort level and it’s important to trust your mommy gut. When I was a first time mom I wasn’t educated enough about my options so I didn’t feel comfortable advocating for anything different than what the doctor suggested. I wish I had known more at the time, but I didn’t. So I followed my comfort level. And that was most important.
There is nothing wrong wth doing everything exactly by the book, if that’s where you’re comfortable. Just remember to follow those mommy instincts!
Get Your Partner on the Same Page
My biggest advocate (besides myself) is my husband! He’s great at speaking up and he’s far less emotional than I am. Any time I did any research and was considering making a decision, I always made sure he was on the same page.
Plus, having someone to bounce ideas off helped too. If he wasn’t comfortable with something that was usually a good indicator that it wasn’t the right direction for us.
My husband and I had many, many conversations about my wishes during pregnancy and labor. We also discussed what he would do if (God forbid) something took a turn for the worse (i.e. stay with me or go with baby). I felt very confident that he would be an advocate for our wishes and he’s always had my back.
If you don’t have a partner you might consider hiring a doula or a midwife. Or find a close friend or family member that could advocate for your needs. Trust me, when you’re in labor it’s hard to think straight. At the peak of labor I got to a point where I couldn’t even form a full sentence!! You’ll want someone on your side who will advocate for your desires when you can’t.
Whether you have a friend, family member, doula, or partner (or all of the above) by your side during pregnancy, be sure that person is on the same page as you and will advocate accordingly.
Don’t be afraid to speak up!! I found that even when I was comfortable with the doctor’s course of actions I needed to ask questions to gain understanding. In my experience most OB’s and labor and delivery staff are very good about telling you what is happening and why. But don’t be afraid to ask!
When I was in labor with my first I was so mad that they wouldn’t let me eat!! I was starving and told the nurse I was going to eat whether she liked it or not. (See what I mean about not thinking clearly??) But when I started asking questions I learned that I wasn’t allowed to eat in case something happened and I ended up needing surgery.
And guess what happened? I ended up needing an emergency c-section. So it was a good thing I didn’t eat.
No, I wasn’t happy about not eating, but I was able to get on board with it once I asked and understood. Don’t be afraid to speak up!
Know When to Let the Doctors Take Over
Aside from being educated, this is the most important part of being your own advocate. We give birth in hospitals surrounded by nurses and doctors because they’re the experts. They know what they’re doing. And sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is to step back and let them do their job.
It’s easy to do research on Pinterest and Dr. Google and think you know it all. But you don’t. (Unless of course you’re a doctor or nurse!!) Remember that none of the research you do can add up to a medical degree. So do your research, find your comfort level, and then draw your line in the sand. Know when it’s time to let the experts be the experts.
When I was in labor with my first I wanted to have a vaginal delivery soooooo badly. My doctor let me push for a while but when Bubbaloo’s heart rate started to drop he stepped in and said “No more, it’s time to get this baby out.” I could have fought him and demanded more time to push. But I knew he had my best interest at heart. And more importantly, he had my baby’s best interest in mind.
Remember that babies kind of do what they want. What’s most important is that you and baby are safe during pregnancy and delivery. That’s the doctor’s number one priority. Make sure you know when it’s time to step back and let the doctor’s be your expert guide.
Pregnancy is a truly magical time in a woman’s life. You might not always be glowing and happy, but it’s a pretty incredible feat that our bodies can grow another human being. And if you learn how to advocate for yourself, it will truly makes a world of difference!
Leave a comment below and tell me how you learned to advocate for your pregnancy to your doctor.