There are so many pregnancy decisions to make. From who your doctor will be to what kind of birthing position you’ll use. People will make it their business to know what your choices are and they will be asking you all the time!
If you’re a first time mom and just taking things one day at a time (like me), I’m sure you were probably a little overwhelmed by these questions.
That’s why I took the time to research and make informed decisions about my pregnancy. It’s best to be prepared and know what you’re getting into.
Here are six pregnancy decisions to make right now.
1. Genetic testing
Throughout your pregnancy, you’ll have several options for genetic testing. If you’re like me, you were probably a little confused by all of the options!
The first thing you want to know is that most of the tests are only screening tests. This means they can only tell you the likelihood that your baby has a genetic condition. These tests include the first trimester screen (blood) and NT test (ultrasound), second trimester (or “quad”) screen, and the cell-free DNA test.
The first of these two are generally covered by insurance, and the last is generally only covered for women over 35 or those who have a family history of a genetic defect that can be picked up by the test.
If you get a positive on one of these screening tests, you can then undergo chorionic villus sampling or amniocentesis to get a confirmatory (or not) diagnosis of your screening results.
For some, this is an easy decision. Some people want to know so they can be prepared to take care of a baby with a genetic defect. Others want the option to consider terminating their pregnancy. Some women forgo genetic testing altogether, saying, “we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”
Whatever you decide, try to consider the pros and cons of each decision. I think the biggest con of either decision is having a lot of anxiety and worry.
2. Gender of the baby
This is of course a pretty easy decision for most. You either want to know ASAP so you can get to shopping, or you just want a surprise at the end. Still, make that decision before your anatomy scan so you don’t get any oops! moments.
3. Home or hospital
I read an article recently about a woman giving birth in the doorway to the ER. She was on her sixth baby, and didn’t really have a choice because that baby was just coming out no matter what!
It got me thinking, though, why that woman chose to have her baby in the hospital. Of course, there may have been circumstances I’m not aware of, or she just felt safer in the hospital. But if I were on my sixth healthy pregnancy, you can bet I’d be chillin’ at home or in a birthing center (with a hospital nearby, of course).
But at this time in my life, with my first baby on the way, I imagine things are going to take a while, and I’m going to be in pain for a while. So I’m gonna want something for pain. & on top of that, I’m a NICU nurse, so of course I’m paranoid about all the crazy things that can go wrong.
For my personal sanity, I’m giving birth in a hospital, even if they tell me I’m going to have a very easy delivery.
My personal train of thought is: if you have an uncomplicated pregnancy, a birthing center or home birth is probably just fine. Just be sure you have someone there that knows what they’re doing in case something unexpected happens, like the cord wrapped around the baby’s neck.
If you’ve been told you’re high risk or will have complications, deliver in the hospital.
4. Epidural or natural
The truth is, I didn’t know much about epidurals before this. I knew that I wanted to be able to labor as much on my own as possible, but also knew that I didn’t want to be in pain. On top of that, I wanted something in place so that I could get an emergency c-section if necessary.
So I thought maybe it was possible to just get an epidural but not use it. But after doing some research, I learned that this is really a dumb idea! An epidural takes at least 20 minutes to kick in to make you truly numb enough to be cut open. In an emergency, you don’t have that long.
Plus, you’d need a bolus of fluids before starting epidural meds because they can drop your blood pressure. So getting an epidural to have just in case just doesn’t make sense.
Now, should I decide I just really want pain medications, of course I’ll get one. But I know that in a true emergency, if I’m not already numb, it will be general anesthesia or a spinal block for a c-section.
Of course, there are other methods of pain control, but not every hospital has them. Talk to your OB about your options.
5. Visitors during labor
Of course everyone wants a first look at your new baby, but do you really want your aunts, uncles, cousins, etc to be there at the hospital? Coming to see you while you’re hot and sweaty, screaming, and trying to pass a giant baby through your vagina?
Yeah, me either.
So decide now who is allowed to visit you during labor. Personally, my husband will be the only one in the room when shit gets real, but I’m okay with my in-laws visiting for a little bit before that. My mother and sisters live in different states so they will not be present.
6. Use of vacuum or forceps
Sometimes babies get stuck. It’s just a fact. Sometimes the safest and quickest way to get them out is with assistive devices. These devices can save you from having a c-section.
But these devices can come with some pretty big risks that I think moms should know about.
This is a topic that I’m pretty passionate about. In my research on these devices, I found that the public information present on the web is lacking information about those risks.
First you have the risks to the mom.
Number 1, it hurts and it can cause more damage to your whoo ha than the baby is already gonna do. Number 2, there’s an increased risk of blood loss, which sucks because you’re already gonna lose a ton with the baby.
Then you have the risks for the baby.
Those include basic things like facial injuries and bruising. They can also include scary things like skull fractures, brain damage and hemorrhage. Sometimes babies do not recover from these injuries and they die or end up needing medical home care.
Don’t get me wrong – this doesn’t happen all the time! It’s few and far between. It’s when physicians use these tools incorrectly, or when they continue using them even when they haven’t helped that these injuries happen. I cared for a baby not long ago who had brain damage and seizures from SEVEN failed attempts with vacuum and forceps.
Personally, I will give permission to try these techniques only once and only by someone who is comfortable with them. After that, I’m taking the knife and cutting the baby out my darn self!
Just kidding, but someone else will be cutting that baby out.
What are your opinions on these matters? Have any more pregnancy decisions to add? Drop me a line!