I'm Pregnant... Now What? 7 Steps To Help You Feel Empowered During Your Pregnancy.
You are pregnant, YAAAAY! I will let you have a moment to freak out in a good way! So, now what? Well of course making your first prenatal appointment is imperative. This can be scary for many women who do not know what to expect. Not only is knowing what to expect in your first appointment important, but also knowing how to feel empowered through the process. If you choose a hospital/clinic setting or a birthing center there are ways for you to feel empowered as an expecting mom. The best way any woman can be empowered through the birthing experience is with education on the process and exercising her right to choose.
Here are 7 Quick Steps to help you in the process:
Ignite Your Spirited Mama Power!
1) If you do not have insurance at the time of pregnancy, please reach out to your local social service agency to get assistance with State Assisted Medicaid in order for you to have access to prenatal care. If you already have health insurance, it is now time to do some research. So, Step 1 is contacting your insurance provider to find out your benefits during pregnancy, which may cover the cost of a birthing center or paying for doula support. Also, check with your insurance company to discuss preferences for your doctor such as female ob/gyn vs male ob/gym, ethnic preference, language preference, location preference, etc. This is your right to request what you would like, do not be afraid to ask!
2) Now that your insurance has provided you with options and you have set up your doctor’s appointment or birthing center appointment, the empowerment does not end. When getting ready for your first appointment be ready to interview your doctor or midwife. It is important that you have a list of questions to ask your doctor to make sure he or she is a good fit for you. Do not be afraid to ask questions, and the best way to do this is by having them prewritten on good old fashioned paper or on your phone. You might be asking, “what should I be asking?” Here is a quick starter: Is there a nurse line that I can call if I have questions? If I experience bleeding or cramping, do I call you or your nurse? What do you consider an emergency? Will I need to change my habits regarding sex, exercise, nutrition? When will my next prenatal visit be scheduled? What type of testing do you recommend and when are they to be done? (In case you want to research the tests to decide if you want them or not.) Ask whatever questions you may have and come prepared.
3) So, you made it to your first visit and the receptionist has handed you a clipboard to complete information and documents to sign. Be sure to read the informed consents and pay close attention to your rights as a patient. This is important, so if you ever need to file a grievance, feel pressured by the doctor, midwife, or staff to participate in testing’s, or procedures are not being explained, then you can file a complaint. This can be done by filing the complaint with your insurance company and with your states medical board if the violation you experienced is egregious.
4) Now that you have read your informed consent and have your prepared questions for the doctor or midwife, your name is called. Once you go behind that closed door ask the doctor or midwife to explain what will be done during this appointment. It is important for medical professionals to explain what is procedures will be done in this visit. If at any time you feel uncomfortable please speak up and if you have support at this first visit it might be helpful to create a code word, so your support can speak up for you if you become overwhelmed. After the visit is complete, take time to reflect on whether or not you felt comfortable with the medical doctor or midwife during your appointment. This is a huge deal because if you are not comfortable, it is going to be hard to ask questions or feel as though you are receiving quality care. If, you did not feel comfortable it is okay to switch! Remember you will be in the care of this individual for 9 months, so it is important to have the right team of people supporting you.
5) What empowers a woman? Education, Education, Education! Education allows a woman to make the best decisions for herself and her family! There are tons of classes offered by hospitals, different organizations and specialized ones for different birth techniques and methodologies. Take time after your first visit to think about how you want your labor and delivery to go. Do research on classes that are in alignment with what you desire during the birthing process. There is something out there for everyone, whatever you want your birth to look like, finding it is just a click away. Attending various classes can help you learn about different decisions you will have to make once the baby is born. Questions like: Do you bath your baby right away? When do you cut the cord? What s hots do you feel comfortable having right away? Should I breastfeed or bottle feed? Education allows space to have conversations and ask for help where needed.
6) Get connected. Nothing says empowerment like community. Join a local mom group in your local community or online for additional support. Find a group of expecting mothers so you can add to your support team. Every expecting mother needs support, so do not be afraid, get involved. Ask more and more questions. With community you gain support, sisterhood, and accountability.
7) Taking care of your mind is empowering. Many women focus on their physical health during pregnancy, which is great! However, do not neglect your mental health. Venturing in motherhood is wonderful and stressful all at the same time. If you are feeling overly anxious or feeling depressed, ask for help. Now, why is seeking mental health empowering you may ask? Well taking care of your whole body and making sure that you are safe is the whole purpose behind empowerment. Plus, you get extra support and learn cool things like how to manage your stress, learn how to better communicate with your partner, heal mother wounds, and focus on how you can manage toxic thoughts in order to make room for more positive ones. Look for a trained Perinatal Mental Health Professional. A great way of doing this is Therapy for Black Girls, Postpartum Support International, Psychology Today, or simply by asking your midwife or OB for referrals. There is no shame for asking for help and gaining more support.
Spirited Mama Tribe