Birth, Maternity

November 4, 2023

A Haunted House Pregnancy & Labor Edition

Pregnancy & Labor can get real spooky real quick in the United States. This blog unpacks a few of the societal norms that I wish were anything but. It’s my slightly humerus (and maybe a little snarky) recap of some of the captions I posted on instagram here.

Let’s start off with an easy one. People can be mean. They don’t always intend to be, but we live in a less-filtered world than it once was, “Bless our hearts.” Unless you are a unicorn and have a magical pregnancy with zero swelling, discomfort or pain, chances are you will hear comments like these at some point in your third trimester. This personally lights a fire under me because so much of what we hear affects how we think. What & how we think of pregnancy follows us into labor &, ladies, you must be mentally strong in order to achieve the birth outcomes you want. I want every pregnant woman I work for to be able to reframe negative thoughts about their bodies, pregnancies, birth, etc into positive.

So, how do we deal with the comments like these that people make? That’s going to depend on your comfort level with confrontation! Here are some responses I like that you can pick from to keep in your back pocket:

“Thanks, growing a baby is hard work, but it’s so worth it!”
“I’m actually not miserable at all, thanks!” (option to add: “are you?”)
“Baby & I are happy & healthy.” (option to add: “thanks for asking.”)
“Would you like to try that again?” (I use this with my 5 year old sometimes, it gives people the opportunity to self-correct without having to directly address what they said).

Whether you decide to go with the humorous rout or straight to the point, just be sure you’re protecting your mental space!

Geriatric at 35!? Yes, it’s true. To the OBs defense, this is how the medical system categorizes 35+ pregnant women, even though most OBs wouldn’t call you that to your face… hopefully. Other terms for this category is “Advanced Maternal Age,” and I’ve even heard women recently say their medical chart showed “elderly primiparous” (first-time birth). Ridiculous. Nobody aged 35 should be called “elderly” for anything, including birth.

In short, this categorization of birthing women was coined by doctors in the 1970s when the trend of delaying pregnancy was first on the rise in the US. The doctors also heavily encouraged pregnant women who were 35+ to have more & more-intensive prenatal testing, which at the time testing was often a greater risk to the pregnancy than the potential outcomes they were testing for. While the testing is safer today than it originally was, there is always a risk & you can always refuse any testing or intervention you aren’t well-informed on &/or comfortable with.

So, should you be worried to have a baby at or after age 35? Is it really that much more risky? My answer is nope. Statistically the risk that increases is marginal. And also, 35 year olds tend to be a bit more careful and cautious & probably have better access to quality nutrition than 18 or 21 year olds these days so, honestly you have a lot going for you even if it’s your first pregnancy! And again, look at communities where contraceptives are still highly discouraged – the Amish, Mennonites, etc. – women are having babies into their 40s naturally and easily! So can you. My baseline for birth is – if God created your specific body to continue menstruating at 35, 40, etc. there is a way you can healthily conceive and carry a baby to term.

Ok friends, this is one intervention I see too often. The truth is, the need for and benefit from AROM (artificial rupture of membranes) is far smaller than you’d think and the risk is actually greater. I could write a whole blog post on this topic so I’m just going to share the basics here but I believe it’ll help you have a better understanding.

The “bag of waters” we often hear about are actually two sacs inside your uterus. The outer sac is called the Chorion and the inner sac is the Amnion. There’s a small amount of fluid between the two sacs, and the outer layer can actually burst independently of the inner, but it’s usually when the inner sac ruptures that we think of as our waters being broken. It’s the Amnion that holds the amniotic fluid, baby, & baby’s umbilical cord. This amniotic fluid surrounds baby and protects him from injury, infection, temperature change, and allows baby to move freely.

Once the amniotic sac is ruptured, baby loses all of that protection and extra mobility. Contractions will immediately become considerably more intense and more frequent. However, this does not mean the contractions will be effective or productive, especially when done prematurely, especially if mom is not in active labor at the time of AROM. You can think of these contractions as more like uterine muscle spasms as compared to the healthy, gradually increasing contractions that your uterus is designed for.

Your baby and your body know what they need for the work that they’re doing. Even when being induced, you have the option to deny an artificial rupture of your membranes and let your body and your baby figure out how/when to break the amniotic sacs naturally.

Pregnancy and birth has become more complicated in our culture than probably any time before. Yes, there are great benefits to modern medicine and life-saving measures, but for the most part birth is being over-managed and meddled with too much. My goal is to educate women on how our bodies are designed to work in pregnancy and birth & empower women to advocate for themselves and the birth they deserve.

Your birth experience can & should be filled will confidence, connection & peace; not fear!
I’m here to help you with that. 

Were you surprised by anything you read today?

If you know any expecting moms or ladies who are TTC (trying to conceive) who could benefit from learning about physiological birth, I’d love if you do us both a favor and send them my way! You can forward this blog &/or share my instagram handle with them: @rebeccahaymes .

Do you want me to unpack any of the other “Haunted Houses” that I shared on instagram?
If so, let me know in a comment below!

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