This is from Love-Knowledge Baby, just edited (see strike throughs) to suit me (well more or less – considering I’m going to a hospital – but I thought it was a good article):
“Here are my requests as a pregnant woman: Above all, support me. Respect me. Allow me my dignity, my choices, and give me the benefit of your full attention. I pledge to return these courtesies.
Support my pregnancy. Don’t voice your fears, but do encourage me to voice mine. Don’t tell me I’m too young, old, fat, skinny, rich, poor or anything else. You may tell me that I will be a great mother. You can tell me that I’m doing a great job. If you have criticisms, let them first be formed as questions and suggestions. Allow me to be in charge of my own body, my own decisions, and support my choices once I’ve made them.
Don’t tell me horror stories. Tell me joyful ones. Don’t tell me I’ll be begging for an epidural. Tell me you enjoyed yours, but that’s it. I want to hear about your experiences, and your choices, but I want to ultimately make my own. Just because you or someone you know had X, Y, or Z happen, doesn’t mean it’ll happen to me. Offer to rub my back, my shoulders, and feet. Offer to cook for me, or to take my garbage out, or to do my dishes.
Take me out to the farmer’s market for fresh produce. Cook for me, or cook with me. Take care of my older kids, if I have any. Don’t tell me I can’t eat X or Y because those alarmist fads change every year. Encourage my intuitive knowledge (especially in regards to my diet), and believe that I have my baby’s and my own best interests in mind (because assuming otherwise is insulting).
Encourage me to listen to the needs of my body and the baby within. Have faith in this natural process, and help me keep my faith in it.
Ask if I want hugs or contact. Don’t touch my body or invade my space just because you want to rub my belly. Ask first. Treat me like a physically able, healthy person . . . because I am not an invalid. Pregnant women are not weak or delicate by nature. In fact, with proper care, it is one of the strongest, physically wonderful times in our lives.
Keep inviting me out for fun things. Perhaps we won’t go bar-hopping, but I still need my friends and my social life. Ask me to go on walks, go swimming, run to the library with you, or just hang out and play games. I still want to play tabletop RPG’s. I still want to play card games or board games. I still want to watch movies and laugh until it’s hard to breathe. Keep being my friends.
Do me a favor and ask questions. I want to know what you’re curious about. I want to discuss the changes happening with me and the baby. I want to hear what you think and talk about your dreams or fears.
Love me and feel joy for me.
If I ask you to, be with me when I am in labor. If you are there for me, pay attention to my signals. Know that I might find it hard to vocalize. If you notice something is making me uncomfortable, ask me (wait until a contraction has eased) if you can help me by removing that stimulation. Be prepared to leave if I ask. Offer me comforts, but offer them one at a time, (between contractions) so that I may accept or decline with simple body language.
If you offer and I accept your touch, keep your hands firm and steady, with deeper pressure, slow and steady strokes. Quick, light touching comes across as frantic and distracting. Tell me I’m doing a good job. Avoid giving me orders, especially at the peak of a contraction when my full concentration is needed. Voice suggestions instead, and wait for me to accept. If I seem to be focusing on the pain (whimpering or making high pitched noises), tell me to think of each wave as the most interesting sensation that requires my full attention.
If a midwife or doctor wants to perform a procedure, make sure that they explain it to you along with reasons, so that you can put it into simpler language and ask me if I understand and consent. Simply translate for me, and act as my gatekeeper.
Make eye contact with me. Deep, steady eye contact is sometimes all a woman needs to get over one cresting rush of a contraction. If I want it, hold my hands and look into my eyes. Encourage me to change positions. Again, offer one suggestion at a time, and don’t rush me. Suggest that I stand, or kneel, or squat.
Suggest I sway my hips while hanging onto your shoulders. Put on belly dance music and shimmy your hips for me. Tell me I can work that baby down and out. Ask if I want to dance.
If I say, “I give up! I can’t do this! NOO!” say “YES! That’s what we want to hear! When women say that, it means the baby is coming soon. You’re in transition! That’s wonderful! It won’t be much longer.”
Respect my wishes at the moment. If I didn’t want an epidural, then I decide the pain is too much . . .
help me into a warm pool of water, help me move, let me try different positions, ask me to endure 5 more contractions, trying different things all the while, then when the 5 are over, ask me again. Tell me I’ve done such a beautiful job, that I’m so strong, that I handled those 5 SO WELL, and ask me if I’d like to try another 5 contractions before asking for pain relief.
Don’t remind me what I said before I went into labor. That doesn’t matter any more. That person doesn’t exist. The creature I am during labor doesn’t give a rat’s behind what the left brain thought it wanted. Do your utmost to support me, and if I ask for pain medications after all of those efforts, and all your encouragement, make sure you’re looking into my eyes as I tell you what I want. If I have to get intervention that I didn’t necessarily want in the first place, praise my efforts and my choice.
“You were in a lot of pain, and it was distracting you from your real work. Now you can rest, and you’re going to open up really wide and have this baby. You did all the hard work, and you’re making the right decision for YOU.”
Likewise, if I choose to have NO pain medications, let me labor! If I have to say no to a procedure more than once, and you ask until I give in, you’re abusing me while I’m powerless. Respect my wishes, and support the natural process of my labor. I would do the same for you. I would respect your choice FOR or AGAINST pain medications or other interventions.
So, for your own sake, and for the sake of others you will come in contact with, BE INFORMED. Do the research. Don’t accept the medlore, the myths, or anything JUST BECAUSE everyone does it that way. Look it up. Read books. Hit the internet.
For your own sake, and for every pregnant woman or new mother you’ll ever encounter, shed the burdens of the myths surrounding your OWN birth, or your mother’s births.
“Her/my hips were too narrow.”
“They needed to cut an episiotomy.”
“I/the baby was stuck, and nothing could have helped it.”
“The baby was just too big to come out the normal way.”
When I hear those stories, I ask a few questions, and the answers are almost always “No”:
Was she allowed to move freely during labor?
Was she given the support of one trained individual (doula, midwife) for the duration the labor?
Was she given any of the following options: multiple changes of position, equipment such as a birth pool, birth ball, birthing stool, a rope or sling to grasp and hang her weight from, acupressure, acupuncture, massage, encouragement to vocalize as needed, a comfort object or focus, mantra, any support person(s) requested, the ability to ask disturbing simulations to cease (even if it means banishing a specific doctor or nurse), etc.?
Did she or her attending physician or care provider consider birth a normal physiological event?
Was she allowed to progress normally, and let to push when she felt like it, and HOW she felt she should?
If I ask you to be there for me during labor and birth, give me all the benefits of an unimpeded labor and birth. Fight for my right to listen to my intuitive self and birth as I know how. Even if I doubt myself, reassure me. Have faith in my body, and know that I would do the same for you. I would do everything in my power to aid you.
Value me and my baby over hospital policy. Value me and my baby over schedules. Value us more than cultural norms. I would do the same for you. Tell me to scream and moan if you want, but guide me toward low, open moans, deep noises and grunts. Watch the tension of my mouth, and suggest things to relax it. Make me laugh, smile, or suggest I make out with my husband/partner. These things will relax my mouth and likewise relax my perineum.
Have faith that I can open wide without tearing. Know that it is a normal physical event for a baby to pass down the birth canal, twisting and wiggling and changing positions, and for my hips to widen, my perineum to dilate and efface (use the words “open” and “flower” and “bloom” and “relaxing” and “widening”) without any tearing or cutting.
When the baby is coming, let me be in an upright position or laying fully on my side. Help me avoid being flat on my back or even reclining on my back, because those positions narrow the pelvic opening. Turn the temperature up and dim the lights for me (and let me know what you’re doing as you’re doing it, and why). Shush people. I don’t want anyone to yell or scream at me at ANY point. Let it be quiet, let everyone be still. Let my baby come down, crown,
and suggest I touch my emerging baby’s head. Let me feel every sensation. Catch my baby or help me catch the baby, but do everything slowly and with calm. It is not an emergency. The baby does not need to be separated from me. There’s no rush. Don’t even rush me to pick the baby up, or do anything. Again, don’t give orders.
Whatever I need to do, feel, or process . . . just let us do it. Don’t cut the cord. It’s still serving a purpose. Don’t touch the baby unless I want you to. Let me pick up my slimy baby and look at her. Let me shake and shiver and press her against my bare belly and chest. Let her take her first breath, but don’t jab things in her throat and nose. The mucus clears by itself. It really does. Wrap us in a blanket, and let me savor the moment.
Start cleaning up quietly, and only take the baby for weighing and other things when I’m ready to let her go. Take care of me, and offer a warm bath for mom and baby. Offer food, drink. Get us off to a good start with breastfeeding, and let the placenta deliver itself.
Treat the blood, the cord, and the placenta with respect, and ask what I would like done with them.
Always offer more support, and if you’re no longer needed, say you’re coming back to help again soon, and depart quietly. Be available. Teach me how to latch the baby on the nipple, and talk to me about the benefits of ecological breastfeeding (including natural infertility). Teach me how to give her the benefits of skin to skin contact.
Teach me how to use a sling or carrier, so I can have an easier transition into motherhood. Teach me the difference between Natural Infant Hygiene, cloth diapering, and disposable diapering. Teach me about baby sign language. Teach me the difference between family bed, co-sleeping, and crib sleeping. Teach me about the “fourth trimester”, and not to listen to people who urge me to let her cry it out.
Teach me to listen to my intuition when it comes to my health and the baby’s health. When I feel like something is wrong, go to the doctor’s and don’t take no for an answer. When I feel that something is right and good for us, let me make that decision and praise me for my assurance.
Give me resources. Give me education. GIVE ME CHOICES, and respect the choices I make. I pledge to do the same for you.”