I've probably been judged as something of a know-it-all who spends way too much time on Google.
Conscious parenting is no joke to me and since Elan was a little seed in my womb, I have committed myself to making informed decisions every step of the way. But I am human. I am growing and learning every day. And like everyone else, I have my blind spots. Now that I'm pregnant again, I've been giving a lot of thought to what I'm doing differently this time. Naturally, there are some things that I don't feel comfortable repeating.
But let me make something clear: This isn't "mom guilt".
Between guilt and flat-out denial, there is a middle-ground where real growth happens. This is where you receive new information -- no matter how uncomfortable -- with an open mind and heart. This is where you look at your past decisions with love and think, "Hm, how can I use this new knowledge to make a better decision next time." (Or if there isn't a next time, you can simply take that information and promise to help other mothers make conscious choices!)
So from this place of self-love and acceptance, I am choosing a different path for my second-born.
1. No Ultrasound
I'm writing this at 35 weeks pregnant and still haven't had a single ultrasound. No doppler exposure either. It feels like a major accomplishment, considering the "What If?" mentality that I'm faced with daily in this culture. "What if your baby is ____." "What if ____ happens and you don't expect it?" None of that has any impact on me because rare hypothetical scenarios are just not worth the risk of exposing my baby to this technology. If you're interested in learning more about my reasoning behind this decision, here's a link to a post I wrote, called "Why You Should Think Twice About Prenatal Ultrasound".
Instead: Fetoscope only, with possibility of doppler during labor.
2. No Vitamin K
I posted about this on my Facebook page a few months ago. We gave Elan the Vitamin K shot and it is by far one of my biggest regrets. Do you have any idea what's in those shots?! It isn't just Vitamin K, that's for sure. We will not be making this mistake again. And we're opting out of the drops as well, because it honestly doesn't make any sense to me. None. Nature did not design every baby to be "low" in any vitamin.
Megan of Living Whole says it well:
The about four babies who get vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB) out of the four million babies born in the United States each year? That’s not due to the medications women take while pregnant, trauma women and babies suffer during a modern childbirth, early cord-cutting, the low levels of gut bacteria infants have because we wipe it out with antibiotics, infant circumcision, or the hep B vaccination given to your babe during its first 12 hours of life to “protect” it against a disease that’s transferred via sex and dirty needles. It’s just a coincidence that one of the many possible adverse reactions of all infant vaccines includes encephalitis, which coincidentally can cause hemorrhaging.
No, hemorrhaging is due to a vitamin K deficiency because a lack of vitamin K caused the bleed in the first place right? Wrong. But let’s pretend babies just randomly suffer brain bleeds at birth. In fact, it makes perfect sense to inject every single baby with something that could harm them to protect them from something that occurs so rarely we don’t even keep stats on it.
Instead: Eat my greens, drink my nettle infusions and demand delayed cord clamping.
3. No Antibiotics for Group B Strep.
Last time around, I tested positive for Group B Strep and my midwife somehow talked me into two rounds of antibiotics. And, whew, this one had long-lasting effects on both Elan and I. Months of gut issues for Elan and four cases of mastitis in one year for me. This time, I am standing firm against antibiotics for GBS. In fact, I'm most likely rejecting the test all-together. What's the point? I'd rather not jeopardize my baby's health (and my own) for yet another rare possibility, and did you know that "IV antibiotics make absolutely no difference to the outcome of babies born to Group B Strep colonized Mothers"? Knowing that, there really is no point.
Instead: Eat fermented food and trust in the process.
4. No Pitocin After Birth
I was dead set against Pitocin for my first birth, for these reasons among others. But I had no idea that it might be administered after the birth. When I delivered the placenta, my midwife saw more blood than she felt comfortable with and rushed to stick a needle in me. She didn't ask or give me any heads up -- at least not that I can recall. I didn't mind at the time, but then I read an article about the connection between synthetic oxytocin and post-partum depression and it prompted me to do more research. Now I think back to that unwelcome needle and I just feel violated. Many midwives have this in their toolbox in case of postpartum hemorrhage and I'm sure that it has saved many lives, but it isn't the only option.
Instead:I've been building my blood and drinking nettle infusions throughout my pregnancy, as well as chlorophyll. My labor will be hands-off again, especially in the Third Stage, when I'm delivering the placenta. No tugging, pulling or commands to "push". I'm also prepared with herbs and homeopathic remedies to use in the event of excess bleeding.
5. Undisturbed First Hours (Weeks!)
Within 15 minutes of Elan's birth, my family was walking into the building. As much as I love them, I wish I would've been more clear about my desire for space. I desperately wanted that undisturbed first hour to stretch into two or three hours, so that my partner and I could relax and just bond with our new baby. Well, that didn't happen, and it actually set the stage for the weeks to come. People were constantly trying to "help" me by offering to hold Elan. A few weeks in, there was even one point where I let someone close to me convince me to leave him with her while I went out to eat down the street with family. When we got to the restaurant, I was shaking with anxiety at being separated from Elan. I started crying and had to be dropped off back at home almost immediately. That is when I finally came into my power as a new mother. That is when I realized that my body knows where it needs to be -- with my child.
The Plan: Our baby will be born in a dark, quiet room. Uninterrupted. Skin-to-skin. Slow and calm. In the first few days and weeks, I will keep Baby near my heart around the clock. The only exception will be when I am having one-on-one time with Elan. And most importantly, I will communicate my wishes clearly and without reservation.
And soon, I'll be sharing what we're doing differently for Baby's first year. ;-)