To be a good parent, you’ll quickly find that you have to say “NO” an awful lot.
I was surprised to find when first pregnant that the fine art of NO actually starts well before the child even leaves the confines of the womb and has nothing to do with discipline.
If you want to naturally parent your child (which of course starts even before conception), you’re going to be a bit counter-cultural and end up saying NO to doctors quite a bit. Just hope they don’t throw tantrums like your eventual 1-year-old will.
Take heart – I have a list of my Top 10 Baby Steps to take as you move towards real food living. Whether you want to get healthy while pregnant or get your family turned around in their nutrition, you won’t want to miss it!
What I Refused at Prenatal Appointments
The “refused” is in past tense because currently, for baby no. 4, I have a certified nurse midwife for the first time ever, and the experience has been totally different.
But I was in regular OB offices for the other three, so I got pretty well-versed at what I wanted to refuse (and those changed over the pregnancies as well as I read more and educated myself on what standards and norms are really necessary, what are just fluff, and what might actually be harmful).
1. Prenatal Vitamins
This is definitely one subject on which I’ve changed a lot over the years, although I was wary ofeven with my first pregnancy. Why? I had just read the list of the artificial colors a pregnant woman should avoid, which included yellow number 6. Guess where I found it, among dozens of places? The prenatal vitamins. That didn’t make sense to me! (But I took them anyway. I didn’t have enough practice saying “NO” yet I guess…)
I don’t think minerals made from rocks are the best for our bodies and vitamins packed so solidly together rarely are digested well anyway, I went an alternative route with number three. I was told with baby two that the big difference between prescription prenatals and over-the-counter versions is that you can get the recommended 1200 mcg of folic acid only in a prescription; OTCs just have 800.
Folic acid is of particular importance the first trimester to avoid spinal bifida, so I went a 50/50 route: one bottle of prescription prenatals and some Garden of Life “raw” vitamins made from actual foods, taking them each every other day. And I ate spinach whenever I could, red meat, and (in capsule form mostly!). After first trimester I just stuck with my regular food-based vitamins and supplements, including fermented cod liver oil.
For baby four, I ordered Folate 800 mcg (as Metafolin) Solgar 100 Tabsplain old folate for the first trimester, a brand I saw recommended on Chris Kresser’s site, and I made liver “pills” by cutting up raw liver into small pieces and freezing them on a cookie sheet. I’m embarrassed to admit how few times I remembered to take the liver lumps though. They’re not exactly as convenient as pills in a bottle!
My tips to get them down:
- Cut small. Mine were a little large and scraped a bit going down, ugh.
- I found if I put 4 on a little plate or dish and left them for 5 minutes, they were still palatable but didn’t scrape. Much better!
- Just do it. Lots of water to chase, etc. Take at least four, but likely double that would be better!
- Of course: grassfed, organic liver ONLY. Hopefully you know your farmer already. Do NOT eat raw organ meats from a grocery store or random butcher. In fact, do not take my word for any of this. Do your own research and make sure you’re comfortable with the choices you’re making. I’m no expert, just another mom.
2. Extra ultrasounds
With baby number three, we didn’t know the exact due date when we first conceived (NFP always allowed me to know perfectly before I ever called the doc with no. 1 and 2, but let’s say we were lazily charting when no. 3 came along!!). I could have had an ultrasound to determine gestational age at my first appointment. I said, “Nah, not necessary,” and the doctor said, “If we can’t hear the heartbeat at the next appointment, I’m going to make you get an ultrasound.”
Well. I was not impressed with that one. I postponed appointment two for two weeks just to make sure baby was old enough to get a strong heartbeat!
With baby four, shoot – I didn’t even decide on my provider or go to any appointments until…um…the first trimester was totally finished!
Any ultrasound exposes baby and mom to an external influence, and although we do the one standard at 20 weeks or so (for better or worse), I try not to do any extras. There’s some research (that I read years ago, sorry) that indicates ultrasounds may impact baby’s hearing eventually. Regardless of physical risk that may or may not exist, there’s the reality of “intervention leading to intervention” which can become a slippery slope.
My babies one and two both ended up with very late-term ultrasounds because I started measuring smaller, so when the exact same thing happened with baby three at around the same time, I had to say NO a lot on the extra ultrasound. Had he not been born on a Saturday the doc was going to ‘make’ me get one on Monday. Ha. Not gonna happen…
Guess who started tracking just a wee bit smaller starting last week, at 36 weeks? Totally not surprised, and the midwife is totally not worried. I’m loving the new relaxed stance here…
Bet you’ve all heard of someone who was told they were going to have a huge baby (and maybe even induced early) because of a late-term ultrasound and then they had a six or seven pounder, right? I just heard that same sad story last night for the umpteenth time. It’s truly amazing how OFF those ultrasound measurements can be, and how much docs depend on them to make major medical decisions (like getting a baby out before s/he is “cooked” all the way in my opinion!).
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3. Genetic testing
Sometimes it’s invasive, which never seems natural, and no matter what my child was going to turn out like, I would want to accept him or her as a gift and not even be tempted to intervene in a pregnancy. This might be just a touch “green” and mostly my faith speaking, but it’s definitely something I refuse.
UPDATE: Commenters disagree with this one more than any other, for 2 very good reasons:
- As of 2014, testing can be done by blood test and not just amniocentesis. That’s not invasive, which is wonderful!
- If a baby does have an issue that may impact labor (or could be helped by immediate intervention after birth), knowing what’s going on helps medical teams be ready. Still a very personal decision, because it’s not always 100% accurate, but something I’d consider if ever given the opportunity again.
4. Extra internal exams
Any time something enters the vaginal tract, infection can occur. Near the end of pregnancy, an internal exam can also jump start labor, and I’d rather literally let nature run its course as much as possible.
I get the first exam, but as the due date approaches and the doc wants to “check me” every time, I decline. A woman can walk around at four centimeters dilated for three weeks, stay at nine centimeters for hours, or shoot from four to ten in 30 minutes.
I don’t feel like the knowledge of how things are “progressing” in there does anything but give false hope or stress me out (in labor), so I have always declined internal exams whenever possible.
5. Stripping membranes
This is days before giving birth to no. 3…
At the end of a pregnancy, many doctors will “strip” the bag of waters and/or break the water by puncturing the amniotic sac to get labor potentially started more quickly. I have friends whose children have been born with the sac intact, so it’s not like it’s necessary for the water to break for a healthy labor. My first two labors ended with the bag of waters breaking while already pushing.
Number three broke in the driveway…which is probably why he was born in the ER after about 2 minutes in the hospital!! That’s not an experience I want to repeat, talk about stressful and the antithesis of a peaceful, natural, lovely birth.
So I see no need to be reaching in there and doing anything to get labor going, no matter if it’s your first and you don’t know what to expect or your sixth. I want baby to stay in the womb and growing as long as both of our bodies sustain that healthy relationship.
This is the first in a five-part series. Here’s the rest:
- Alternatives to the Orange Glucose Drink for Gestational Diabetes Screening
- 5 More Interventions we Refuse in Labor and Delivery
- Natural Parenting During the First Week
- Keep Baby Safe and Healthy with 5 Simple Natural Parenting Goals
For more of my older posts on pregnancy, since I hardly wrote anything this go ’round, here are all the pregnancy posts here at KS.
Forgot One! The Orange Drink for Glucose Testing…
Enough readers pointed out that I totally missed one, so here’s a whole post on the orange glucose drink for gestational diabetes screening and your viable alternatives to it!
This post includes affiliate links to Perfect Supplements.