Whole Parenting Family

You’re Pregnant. Now What?

Emily Rumsey Photography

Do you live in Minneapolis/Saint Paul or thereabouts? Are you expecting your first baby? What are the first steps toward learning more about your options for childbirth here in the Metro? I got news for you: long gone are the days of  just showing up at the hospital, push, push, and then having a cigar (probably not you, probably your partner). Now you’ve got childbirth classes, doulas, birth plans, midwives, OB/GYNs, water births, land births, drugs, no drugs, and different kinds of drugs. It’s an avalanche of info. And I’m not even talking about all the unsolicited input from well-intentioned friends and relatives.

1) Childbirth education classes.

Why do you need a class to tell you what’s totally natural and biologically normal? Just because our bodies know what to do doesn’t mean our heads do. Trust me, a lot of it is not intuitive. The Twin Cities boasts a number of great childbirth education centers and classes.

Begin with a free meeting offered by the Childbirth Collective, a non-profit run by birth professionals that’s a fabulous resource for families. See here for the schedule of parent topic nights.

I’ve done reviews & introductions of two of our newest childbirth ed places: BabyLove in Eagan {BabyLove: A New Place for Childbirth Education in the Metro}Enlightened Mama in Saint Paul {Newest Childbirth Education Center in the Metro: Enlightened Mama}, Flutterby Birth Services on the West Side of town {Flutterby Birth Services: My Chat with Owner & Founder}, numomma in downtown Saint Paul {numomma: the freshest newest childbirth educational experience}

See BabyLove’s class schedule & fees here. BabyLove offers Lamaze childbirth classes, breastfeeding classes & support, infant care classes, and infant safety classes. It also hosts various groups for mamas and families.

See Enlightened Mama’s here. Enlightened Mama offers childbirth prep, beyond birth, specialty childbirth prep, doula training,  Enlightened Mama also is home to Emily Rumsey Photography, acupuncture, counseling, lactation support, and placental encapsulation.  It hosts mama groups and Friday night happy hours for families.

See Flutterby’s class offerings here. Erin is both Lamaze and Hypnobirthing certified and offers her services as a doula as well. She is all over the Metro so she’s not restricted by her studio on the West Side.

See numomma’s schedule & offerings here. Jen is a registered nurse who started the numomma method after her own background in teaching & using Hypnobirthing–her own method is a blend of approaches and she offers her sessions in a modern clean space in lowertown downtown Saint Paul to chat, talk, and share.

2) Doulas.

You know my stance: get one. Whether it’s your first birth or your tenth. They are worth their weight in gold. See my posts here {Dads for Doulas}, here {Preparing & Including Your Partner in Birth}, and here {Why You and Your Partner Need a Doula}. Women have been helping women give birth for centuries, and your partner will appreciate the sidekick, as will the nurses and other healthcare providers. Doulas mean lower unnecessary interventions, and a greater likelihood your birth plan will be respected and implemented. It means someone is there to be an extra help, and believe me, medicated or otherwise, the extra help is ah-mazing.

3) Birth plans.

You think, why do I need a plan? Baby is going to show up, and everything will be fine. The doctors and nurses are telepathic and they’re going to know just what I want. My partner and I will magically be on the exact same page about everything.

Um. Those who fail to plan, plan to fail, as my riding coach used to say. See posts here {Birth Plan: Why You Need One}, here {While You’re Birthing, Who’s Got the Kids?} and here {What to Take to the Hospital} about why you need a birth plan, and why your healthcare provider usually has a template on the website because they want you to have one too.

4) Choosing your provider.

Your provider will be one of three options: doctor in hospital, midwife in hospital, or midwife at home/birth center. Of course, there’s always the cab driver, but we’re hoping that’s not the case.

SuperBoy was with an OB in the hospital. We had our doula & a rockstar nurse. The doc showed up to catch him, sing Happy Birthday (no joke), and leave. I don’t even know his name. Our own doc did come by to visit and offer her sweet congrats, but in a big practice, who knows who you’ll get.

SweetPea came with a midwife in the tub at the hospital. Midwifery care is more hands on, and as they don’t take high risk patients, they focus on birth being normal and natural and generally are more educated in non-medicinal palliative measures. Love our midwives, love the midwife who helped SweetPea emerge, and loved the tub. (See next!)

5) Water or Land?

Waterbirth is a fairly recent phenomena that began in Russia, of all places, a few decades back. Babies are born with a dive reflex that until their lungs hit air, they don’t try to breathe through their mouth or nose, but continue to breathe through the umbilical cord. Most homebirths that I’ve heard of are with an inflatable birthing tub, and most birth centers have birthing tubs as well. An increasing number of hospitals in the Cities offer water birth with their midwife groups. Generally speaking, OB/GYNs and family practice doctors do not oversee water births.

Having birthed in both locales, I can assure you that once you’ve had water, there’s no going back. You can relax better between contractions, and have a better chance at relaxing during them. The arrival of the baby is also surreal in its peace, calm, and slow-motion feeling. Additionally, as a perk, perhaps, my daughter is the happiest calmest baby ever, and she was born in the water. It’s not a double-blind study, but hey, peaceful entry, peaceful baby?

The Childbirth Collective website has a great chart comparing the hospitals in the Metro as to what they have and don’t have available to patients. See here.

The list of water birth hospitals: Abbot Northwestern, Fairview Riverside, HCMC, Hudson, Lakeview Stillwater, Regions St. Paul, St. Joe’s, Woodwinds, Abbott, & St. John’s.

6) Managing pain.

Here’s a great resource by Dr. Sears that addresses pain management resources: tah-dah. He discusses narcotics here, epidurals here, and natural pain reduction here.

A quick overview of drug options in labor is available here: tah-dah. This quote is taken from the Parents.com article on the basic two medical options:

There are two main categories of pain relief — regional blocks and opioid analgesics. Regional blocks, such as epidurals, spinals, or combined spinal-epidurals (CSE), are injected into your lower back to deliver pain relief right where you need it: your uterus and vagina. They work by stopping pain impulses from traveling up your spinal cord. Opioid analgesics, such as Demerol, are narcotics that are injected into a muscle or run through an IV into a vein. They dull your senses and decrease your brain’s ability to perceive pain throughout your body.

And then there’s the wild women like me who welcome the pain and decide to go without any sort of pain medicine. Why would anyone in their right mind do this? Read my birth story of SuperBoy here {Unmedicated Labor: You Can Do It!}, and SweetPea’s story here {Our Baby Girl’s Birthday}.

I want to write more on this later, but the one paragraph gist is that AA and I believe that our child has the healthiest beginning without unnecessary interventions; I labor better, faster, and can truly be present in the arrival of our child; it is the most real experience of one’s life as there are no filters between who you think you are and who are you are capable of; and I offer up the pain for specific intentions of those in need in my life, a sort of Catholic-karma-pay-it-forward sort of deal.

Happy pregnancy! Keep in touch and share your birth story with us, in our Birth & Parenting Series.