All about Prenatal Visits
All of my doula packages include 2-3 prenatal visits, and I've found that many expectant couples are unclear about what exactly to expect during those prenatal visits and what the value is for them. In this blog post, I'll share more about my goals going into prenatal visits, and how that drives the content of the prenatal visits.
Goal #1: get to know each other
My number one goal is always to get to know the expectant person or couple, and to give them a chance to get to know me. One of the major benefits of hiring a doula is that you will have someone by your side throughout pregnancy, birth, and postpartum that understands who you are, your priorities, and will know how to be there for you when are things get hard. I want to understand more about what you believe about birth and parenthood, what you're scared of and what's important to you. I want to understand you and your partner as people, your values, and your relationship. This will help me to understand what makes you tick and give me a better idea of how to cater my support to suit your needs. I also want you to get to know me. Trust is two-way relationship, so I try my best to be open & honest about who I am as a person and a doula.
Here are some questions that we talk through to help cover this goal:
What do you know about the day you were born?
How has this pregnancy been going?
How do you want to feel in labor?
What is your modesty level like? How covered do you want to be in labor?
Do you have any religious or cultural traditions you'd like me to know about?
What books have you read or classes have you attended?
How do you support each other as a couple? How do you envision working together as parents?
Goal #2: understand your vision
My second major goal is to create a shared vision of what your ideal birth would look like. I always ask what you expect of me, what you expect of your partner, and how you envision the three of us working together. I ask about goals and priorities, comfort measures, what type of atmosphere will be most comforting to you, and how I can best support you through an unexpected outcome or decision that needs to be made in labor. Below are some topics we cover related to this goal:
What is your ideal birth? (pregnant person & partner both answer)
Do you want me to take pictures & videos?
Which comfort measures are you interested in trying?
How would you like me and your birth partner to work together?
What are your pain medication preferences? How can we best support you surrounding pain medications?
When are you planning to go to the hospital or calling the midwives?
Are there any interventions that you're particularly fearful of or hoping to avoid? Any that you're open to?
What are your preferred positions for labor and pushing?
Goal #3: boost confidence and share options through information sharing
My third goal is to provide information. I really do believe that knowledge is power, so I do my best to make sure you're aware of your options and feel confident going into your birth and postpartum. I have spent a lot of time researching and learning about pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. I share a lot of hand-outs and resources during prenatal visits to help make sure you have access to the information you need. I do my best to share evidence-based information and avoid pushing you in any one direction. My goal is that you feel good about the decisions you make, I'll never recommend any particular option but simply help give you the right information to make a decision that's best for you.
What to expect in each stage of labor
What to expect when you get to the hospital
Potential interventions and their risks/benefits
Potential adverse outcomes
Options for pushing (positions, methodologies, etc.)
Standards of care in the hospital for baby & pregnant person
Teach partner 3 "go-to moves" to support you in labor
Breastfeeding resources in Madison
What to expect postpartum - bleeding, emotions, healing process, taking care of baby, relationship
Mental Health resources in Madison
How to create effective contractions & help baby descend
Goal #4: strategies for working well with your care providers
The last major goal I try to accomplish during prenatal visits is giving you some strategies and tools you can use to work well with your care providers. For many of you, having a baby may be your first real interaction with the medical system. It can be hard sometimes to understand what your options are, how to say no when a care provider suggests something that's not in your plan, and how to understand whether you're in an emergency situation or if you have time to make a decision. We talk about decision-making strategies and ways that you can work with you care provider before the birth to feel confident that he or she understands your plan and is on board with supporting your goals.
Questions to ask care provider ahead of time
Offer to attend a doctor's appointment with you if you're having trouble communicating with doctor or need help with advocacy
I hope this helps to give you a good understanding of what's covered in prenatal visits and why! With all this being said, I do always ask at the beginning of each visit if there's anything in particular you're hoping that we can discuss to make sure that we also work towards your goals if they're different from mine!
Claire Baker Madison Doula <3 <3