How to Take Charge of Your Pregnancy & DIY Prenatal Care
If you’re not hiring a doctor for the birth, you don’t need one for your pregnancy. Learn how to do your own prenatal care.
Many women who plan on giving birth unassisted still want to receive regularly scheduled prenatal care. Whether they just want to reassure themselves or their friends and family, they simply feel more comfortable with periodic checkups.
There is nothing wrong with receiving prenatal care. And while it may not be entirely necessary to have those regular checkups, most of them can’t hurt. How do you go about getting prenatal care while planning an unassisted birth?
These are your options for prenatal care when planning a homebirth:
- Go to an OB/GYN
- Hire a midwife
- Schedule appointments as needed with a midwife
- Do your own prenatal care
- Trust the process & skip monitoring altogether
Do Your Own Prenatal Care
The easiest options is to do your own prenatal care. While you won’t be able to do a blood draw, you can certainly test your urine, measure your uterus, weigh yourself, and examine your current diet and lifestyle. You can even purchase a stethoscope and listen to your baby once you’re far enough along.
If you’re curious about your overall health, you can ask your primary doctor to perform some simple blood tests for you. To ensure a healthy pregnancy, it’s really important to eat healthy, exercise, and go outdoors. Prenatal care merely attempts to detect potential problems, but it does nothing to fix them.
Pay for Individual Appointments
Some midwives will allow you to pay for each individual prenatal appointment. If you go that route, they won’t come to your birth. However, most midwives charge one price that includes prenatal care, the birth, and postpartum care. You are usually required to pay the entire balance a few weeks before your due date. It may also be possible for you to make appointments at an OB/GYN.
If you want continued prenatal care, you may not want to mention you’re planning an unassisted birth. You should be able to pay for each appointment when you go. If you have insurance, then your doctor won’t be able to bill them for services you haven’t received, so that’s certainly an option.
If you don’t tell your care provider you want to give birth unassisted, then have a plan for afterwards. Many women choose to say that everything happened too quickly to call. And if everything turns out okay, there is really no reason to go to the hospital afterwards.
If you want to receive postpartum care, you could call the doctor the next day and let him know. But that’s entirely up to you. If you have passed your due date and your doctor is pressuring you into an induction, then you have even more of a reason to stop going.
However, if you end up going over your due date by two weeks or more, read up on post-term pregnancies to watch for potential problems on your own.
Hire a Midwife
Many women find the idea of having to go to the hospital as a backup less ideal than having a midwife to call. Therefore, you may decide to sign a contract with a midwife that allows you to call her when the baby comes. You can still choose to call her after the birth or you could even not call her at all. What you end up doing is entirely your choice.
But you also need to decide how comfortable you are with giving birth unassisted. Some midwives won’t mind taking a backseat at your birth. I have even heard of a midwife who will wait out in the car during the birth unless she is called. Not every midwife is going to be hands off like that. But as you’re getting closer to your due date, you will know how your particular midwife might react.
How to Do Your Own Prenatal Care
It’s exciting to be an expectant mother. Even if you have to deal with nausea for the first few months and backaches for the rest of the pregnancy, growing a baby in your uterus is a wonderful experience. Of course, as soon as you read the results of your pregnancy test, you might wonder what you need to do next.
For most women, being pregnant means subjecting yourself to many prenatal appointments. Most of them are boring and tedious, especially if your caregiver doesn’t spend a lot of time with you. After all, what does it really mean to you to get tested throughout your pregnancy?
While prenatal testing can detect problems early, prenatal care doesn’t usually help in resolving those problems. In fact, you can compare prenatal care to dental exams. During an exam, your dentist might find a cavity, but having regular dental checkups won’t do anything to prevent the cavity from appearing.
Prenatal care can only detect problems during pregnancy, but it can’t prevent them.
So what can you do? Depending on your general philosophies in life, the best you can do is just try to be healthy, and not just during pregnancy. Obviously, that means eating a healthy diet, getting exercise, getting sunshine, and feeling at peace with yourself.
And while you should avoid a few things during pregnancy, such as x-rays, smoking, and drugs, most women can continue to go on with their lives as before. But if you’d feel more comfortable getting regular prenatal care, then you could certainly do some of that yourself, too.
Do-it-yourself prenatal care might involve one or more of the following things:
- Tracking weight gain
- Tracking the size of your uterus
- Checking your blood pressure
- Testing your urine
- Checking baby’s heart rate
- Getting blood work done at a doctor’s office
Of the women who give birth unassisted, some of them receive prenatal care from a doctor or midwife. Some freebirthers choose to do their own prenatal care at home. Others are hands off and decide not to monitor anything at all. There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer here. You need to choose the option you feel most comfortable with.
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The Unassisted Baby includes a comprehensive overview on pregnancy, prenatal care, and common concerns for expecting mothers. The book teaches you how to care for yourself and your baby while you’re expecting, track your baby’s growth, and manage pregnancy-related symptoms.