Sanity Sundays: Put Down the Pregnancy “Guide”

I find that books about pregnancy provoke anxiety. And I’m not alone. This article over at Slate, for example, backs me up pretty well:

17,000,000 Weeping Pregnant Women Can’t Be Wrong: The mean-girl advice of What to Expect When You’re Expecting

Allison Benedict confirms my resolution to stay as far away from that particular book as possible when she explains that the book’s

just-us-girls approach can at times be comforting (Did I ever tell you about the time my mucous plug came out?) or gross (Did I ever tell you about the time my mucous plug came out?), but most often it’s passive-aggressively terrifying. (Oh, your mucous plug hasn’t come out yet? Huh. I’m sure it will. But for a tiny fraction of women, a dysfunctional mucous plug latch means you have three days to live. Consult your physician.)

So, today, I thought I’d start the first of a series of tips I’ve picked up about how to stay sane and well-informed about pregnancy. What’s a girl to do when her options are either “passive-agressively terrifying,” condescending or impersonal? I asked my therapist this very same question the time she asked if I would please return the 17 pregnancy books I had checked out of the library last fall (months and months before we were even thinking about starting to try for a baby). The answer is astonishingly simple:

Talk to real women.

Of course, the key is to talk to women who remain positive about pregnancy and birth. It’s pretty important to avoid the mom who tells she was not and you are definitely not up to dealing with the pain, and instead, to seek out the mom who would love to recommend a good birthing class where the instructor will help you understand all your options for dealing with pain during labor. I have found quite a few positive moms and pregnant ladies on the internet by reading blogs and through Twitter. But today, I found the best resource ever: The Doula.

“My mamas call me whenever they want to, and I will talk about whatever you need. I’ll listen to every detail about that last appointment, even if you and I are the only two people on the planet who are excited about it.”

She’s more expensive than a book, yes. But she’s supported a few moms through a few births, even at the very same hospital I’ll be using. I can call her with any pregnancy or birth question, and she will try and find me the answer.

And she makes cookies. And tea.

She encourages moms to sign up for doulas as early as they want to, because her fee is the same, no matter when you sign on together. I’m going to meet with a few more doulas before I decide, but I’m kind of ready to be this lady’s best friend. (I don’t have that many friends in New Haven… it gets a bit lonely… But that’s another story.) Whomever I choose, it will be happening fairly soon. Because why look it up on a book or search engine when you can just call your friendly doula?

Did I mention she made me tea and cookies?

You can find a certified doula through DONA international’s website; I will probably end up using someone working towards her certification, because the fee is lower. But as it turns out, doulas are friendly with each other, too. They’ll happily pass along names so you can meet with as many as you’d like before deciding. It’s a bit like finding a therapist–you want someone who feels like a friend, but who won’t judge or worry about you the way friends and family do. A good doula doesn’t give advice, she just helps you find out all the information you need to make up your own mind. I am officially endorsing doulas as sanity savers.

7 Comments

  1. Agaldames74 said:

    Doulas are wonderful!  I had the same doula for both Minta and Mateo’s births and her presence really lowered my stress, even in some pretty intense moments.  Also, even though it sounds a little out there, I highly recommend hypno-birthing classes.   Paul and I took a series of classes before Mateo’s birth, and even though I didn’t follow everything strictly as they recommended, many of the techniques and all the advice about how to stay physiologically and psychologically relaxed during birth helped tremendously. 

    March 25, 2012
    Reply
    • Anne-Marie said:

      Thank you for reading, Andrea! It’s lovely to hear from you. I’d love *any* advice you have about pregnancy, birth, parenting, so keep it coming! ;)

      Nathan and I are doing a workshop–a one-day thing as part of training–for Birthing from Within. We’ll get to try that out before deciding. And the doula I just met can introduce me to another doula who also teaches Hypno-Birthing. She refers “Hypno-Birth Mamas” to that friend. It’s good to hear a recommendation from someone who has done it! I’m really curious to learn more and happy there are so many options.As far as anything being “out there” — I’m doing placenta encapsulation. I don’t care what is “out there” if it might help and won’t hurt!

      March 25, 2012
      Reply
  2. Kimberly Shepherd said:

    Hi Anne-Marie!  I am a new reader and am loving your blog. I was sent here from a friend – Maya, from Musings of a Marf Mom. I wanted to share that I had an amazing doula and a midwife and I can’t recommend the combo highly enough! :) I didn’t/don’t have many close female friends so I definitely appreciated the ability to call up my doula to ask questions and she was invaluable during labor, to both me and my husband.  I struggle with ADD and a sprinkle of OCD and anxiety, and I have family members who are chronically disabled by mental illness, so I also wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your honesty and your willingness to dispel the stigmas that surround mental illness. Onward and upward! I’ll continue to read and look forward to getting to know you better and reading more about your bug. :)

    March 26, 2012
    Reply
    • Anne-Marie said:

      Onward and Upward! I love it! Thank you for reading. I feel so lucky to have the support of my friends and family, so I have nothing to lost putting it all online. I love the opportunity that gives me to fight the stigma.

      March 26, 2012
      Reply
  3. Jane said:

    Thank you for the link to that article

    March 27, 2012
    Reply
  4. Jane said:

    Okay, my commenting skills are not so hot today. Thank you for the link to that article, because it’s good to know I’m not the only one that gets kind of crazy about that book. 

    Also, thank you for the good advice on talking to someone real! I was lucky my doc was so calming and no-nonsense, and I was able to call him a couple of times outside of an appointment. A doula might have been really nice, though. People just rave about them. You’ll have to keep us posted who you pick and how it goes.

    March 27, 2012
    Reply
  5. Marria said:

    Wonderful post! I know the pregnancy time is really a difficult stage and definitely we need some extra help. There are trained doulas Oahu who offer postpartum for the new mommies. Check out more information http://www.shinebirthservices.com

    January 9, 2017
    Reply

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