Healthy and Informed Pregnancy: Some Statistics to Consider
I love working with pregnant women in my clinic. It brings me so much joy to help women feel better while helping to support their babies-to-be! As my patients and friends know, I am a huge supporter of women seeking out the pregnancy and birth that they feel most comfortable with. Some women see midwives, and some see OBGYNs. Some choose to birth at home, and some in a hospital. There are so many decisions to make surrounding pregnancy and birth, and my goal is to help ensure that women are educated about all of their choices, and empowered to make decisions that feel the most compfortable for them.
With that, I'd like to share a few facts about birth and pregnancy healthcare that many women are uninformed of. Too many times I have seen these points overlooked, and too many women are lead to unnecessary interventions throughout their pregnancies and births.
Ultrasounds and Predicting Baby's Size
Most women choose to get at least one ultrasound during their pregnancy, usually in the first trimester, to make sure their baby is healthy and developing well (and possibly to determine the baby's gender). Some OBGYNs will reccomend more ultrasounds throughout the pregnancy, though the freequency really depends on the doctors opinions, and many women opt out of any future utlrasounds all together.
As Mama gets closer to her "due date", many doctors will use ultrasound to predict the size of the baby. They will often use this prediction to determine whether or not the baby is ready to come out (rather than waiting until labor begins naturally). If they predict the baby is too large, doctors will often convince Mama that they need to induce.
Utlrasounds are not very accurate at predicting baby's weight. They are, on average, 10-20% off in estimating baby's actual size. This means that an average sized baby can easily be estimated to weigh over 9 pounds.
The 40 Week "Due Date"
Studies have shown time and time again, that an average pregnancy actually lasts 41 weeks + 1day. In fact, according to western standards, most first time mom's are 10 days "overdue" when they go in to labor. I have seen many women who are a few days "overdue", freaking out that they are "late", when in reality, they still have over a week left before their true "due date".
In addition, while many doctors will not allow their patients to continue their pregnancies past 42 weeks, healthy babies are born all over the world that last up to 43. I always recommend my patients ask their OBGYNs and midwives what their policies are on "late-term" births, and that they feel comfortable with the answers they are given.
Doulas and Decreased C-Section Rates
Having a doula present at your birth will reduce your risk of a c-section rate by 28%. There. I said it. I am a huge supporter of doulas- especially for first time Moms.
While your partner may be the most supportive and loving person in the world, they have, most likely, never been to a birth. Would you go white water rafting for the first time without a guide?
I know that hospitals have nurses to support you, but those nurses don't know you, or the specifics of your birth plan. Plus, their shift may change mid-way and you may not jive with the nurse your are assigned to. Having a doula is like having a guide and advocate to support you during your birth and make sure your needs are met and your goals are achieved. A good doula will support your partner in supporting you to provide you with the best birthing experience possible.
Just remember, It's never too late to change your care choices surrounding your pregnancy. If you are dissatisfied with the answers you receive to any of your questions, you are always free to find a different OBGYN or midwife, or to change your entire birth plan altogether. This is your birth, and it is important that your feel safe and cared for.