Finding the right provider and asking the right questions can be very overwhelming when you first learn you are pregnant. Stephanie King, a childbirth educator and professional, joins us on today's episode to share her personal birth experiences, the drastic difference between her first and third births, and how she learned to advocate for herself. Stephanie is also the creator of a wonderful online birth course called My Essential Birth and the Pregnancy & Birth Made Easy Podcast host.
As we embark on this journey of motherhood, learn from Stephanie the important questions to ask, how to choose the right provider and how to truly advocate for yourself in this episode of the Mamas in Training Podcast!
OUTLINE OF EPISODE:
[00:56] - About Stephanie
[03:09] - How she encourages women who are expecting to dive in more about pregnancy
[05:59] - Her second birth was VBAC, but her local hospital said it would absolutely be a cesarean during the third time.
[08:25] - How her second birth experience changed her life
[11:04] - Her idea of advocacy and the way she owns it
[13:31] - How did you find that you needed to advocate for yourself, especially in the third pregnancy?
[16:52] - Did you gather the list of birth provider questions from your experience
[18:47] - How do you recommend first-time moms the whole process of figuring out if the doctor is the right person for them?
[22:25] - How do you know things like the option to be in a bath or a shower during birth are common or researchable?
[26:11] - What are some other needs and not needs during pregnancy?
[32:37] - What other pivotal moments of the postpartum phase that we need to advocate?
[35:47] - What is your recommendation of starting to gather things like a birth map slowly?
[37:18] - Online birth course my essential birth
WHAT WE DISCUSSED:
How do you encourage women expecting to dive in more about pregnancy?
Stephanie: I would highly encourage them to do the research. I know a lot of women who are the opposite of that, where they decide, "I am going to do it this way," or whatever. Sometimes that works out okay for them. The other times it doesn't. And those are the ones that come looking for a change.
That's like the bare minimum that we ever want to talk about when we're talking about giving birth. Of course, everybody should be healthy. How is the mom made to feel? How was she? Were you a part of the decision-making? Were you respected? Do people ask your opinion? It's your body, but sometimes it's not treated that way. So, it becomes essential for expecting women to do some research about pregnancy.
How did you find that you needed to advocate for yourself, especially in the third pregnancy?
Stephanie: For me, it was like the chicken-egg situation. In my opinion, you need two things to have a great birth experience, where you have to do that advocacy.
Number one, you need a really good birth provider.
Number two, you need to know what to ask. You need to have the knowledge to be able to have a good birth provider.
So they really go together. But if you don't have the knowledge to know the questions to ask, if you don't have the knowledge to know what kind of birth you want, what the outcome looks like, and how to get there, then you're not going to be able to match up with the provider that's going to fit that.
You can have a provider that seems so lovely and is really nice to you. But you guys can clash on the important things like, you don't want an episiotomy, that skin to skin is really important, you don't want that on the table starting at 38 weeks if you don't have all that sorted out already.
So luckily, by my third pregnancy, I had a lot of that knowledge. We were revisiting that knowledge, what's important on my birth plan or birth map, writing different paths to the same destination that I desire.
Did you gather the list of birth provider questions from your experience?
Stephanie: It was from personal experience and professional experience. Some of the questions came up when I taught in birth classes and some from personal experience.
But I do want to stress that you can be a mom at 36, 37, 38 weeks, and you can still fire your provider and advocate for yourself. There is literally no time that you can't say, "I don't want this person in my space. You're done." And I think that's important. And you have every right to do that.
How do you recommend someone who isn't expecting yet or doesn't want to walk into an appointment with their OB, the whole process of figuring out if the doctor is the right person for them?
Stephanie: I think personality is huge. So that's probably your step one. If you know that you can say things to your OB, if you know that you're getting the amount of time and attention you need out of an appointment, you don't feel like they put things off when you talk to them.
There's just some basic bedside manner, and good communication skills that I think need to match between provider and patient.
The next part is now I need to have the knowledge and figure out what I want for my birth. And then, we create this birth plan or this birth map. In other words, this is my list of all of my preferences. And I like to break it down. Let's get it on one page and say these are the most important ones.
What are some other pivotal moments of pregnancy and birth or postpartum phase that we need to really advocate for?
Stephanie: For postpartum, I think as soon as that baby's born, there's a ton of stuff. And now you're not just advocating for yourself. You're advocating for your child too. That can include things like I want to wait to cut the cord, I want them to get all their cord blood, I want them to be skin to skin with me right away.
I would not like the erythromycin because I know that I don't have chlamydia or other things that will transfer to my baby's eyes. I'd like to wait on a couple of these things like the washing of the baby and the weighing of the baby.
And then moving into things like if I choose to or don't choose to vaccinate for hepatitis B, or whatever it is.
So you do come up against a ton of things, and for the rest of your life, you will have to choose what's right for you, for your body, for your children, for your family, and that'll go from child to child and pregnancy to pregnancy. But it's your right.
What is your recommendation for starting to gather things like a birth map slowly?
Stephanie: The beauty of it is that you do have a full nine-month. You don't have to make all those decisions right away, and those things can change as you learn and grow.
One of the things that we do as women or as a community, in general, is we reach out to each other and bounce ideas off of each other. You'll notice too that certain people have certain opinions about things. You might become a little more careful about who you're asking questions or looking for information from.
I think online communities are incredible for doing that because it's not just your local community. And when you find other women who are talking about advocacy, who are standing up for themselves and supporting one another, all of a sudden, you're going to feel a little stronger and be able to do those things for yourself.
"No matter what you're going through, no matter what outside sources there are or opinions that there are if you know deep down in your heart what you want, and what you can do, and you believe in yourself, you will be given the power to make the decisions that you need." -Stephanie King
"You can have an absolutely beautiful birth as long as you're prepared and armed with the knowledge to do so. And unfortunately, maybe you might have to fight for some things. But you have the right to do that. And you should do that." -Stephanie King
"When you find other women who are talking about advocacy, who are standing up for themselves and supporting one another, all of a sudden, you're gonna feel a little stronger and be able to do those things for yourself." -Stephanie King
Birth Provider Questions from Stephanie
Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin
Podcast: My Essential Birth
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