Motherhood can be immensely empowering, provided women know their rights and are supported by professionals. Any patient has the right to ask questions and request second opinions.
One model for empowering pregnant women is group antenatal care. This approach enhances communication among women while increasing learning. Garcia and Yim demonstrated that increasing empowerment during gestation reduces perinatal depressive symptoms and prematurity rates.
1. Take care of yourself.
Pregnancy can be both exciting and exhausting physically. Fatigue, nausea, and changes to skin tone are among the symptoms women commonly experience during gestation, making self-care essential in order to ensure an uninterrupted gestation journey. It is vitally important that care be taken for yourself so as to minimize stress during this precious time of growth and birth.
Self-care includes making sure you get enough rest, proper nutrition and enough water. Indulging in certain activities – like saunas and hot tubs which may overheat you – that may overdo it can also trigger contractions (rosemary and clary sage are two herbs which have this potential), so be sure to reach out to your healthcare provider regarding any questions or concerns during your pregnancy.
Asking questions and asserting yourself during your pregnancy journey is an integral component of feeling empowered and making informed decisions. “It is okay to feel anxious or scared, but don’t allow those emotions hold you back,” advises OB/GYN Dr. Nicole Calloway Rankins. Additionally, understanding your rights as a patient (HIPAA laws and office policies, health insurance options), will equip you with confidence when exercising your rights as a patient.
Finding a support group of pregnant people you can join for additional support during your pregnancy can be incredibly helpful in terms of both friendship and overall support for both mother and baby. Not only can joining make new connections but it could even benefit you and the unborn.
2. Ask for help.
Modern moms-to-be have more control than ever over their birthing experience, yet that does not translate to meaningful choices unless they know how to assert themselves and speak up when needed. That means educating themselves on the process as well as their rights as patients.
At any point in their pregnancy, patients have the right to a second opinion regarding any aspect of care provided by their healthcare provider, especially if there are doubts as to his diagnosis or plan.
Before having any medical procedures performed, it’s also a smart idea to inquire about costs so you have an accurate idea of the full costs involved. Being in charge of your own care gives you power and confidence as you begin motherhood.
3. Get connected.
Pregnancy can be an incredible opportunity to connect with like-minded women. Meeting other expectant moms and their partners can be immensely supportive; especially if you find people who understand your current struggles.
One way to feel empowered as a patient under your doctor’s care is by understanding your rights as one. That means knowing what to expect during appointments, inquiring about medications or procedures being recommended, and understanding your HIPAA rights.
As well as remembering to voice any concerns or question healthcare providers directly, it’s essential to remember that it’s always acceptable to express them – this is part of empowerment! Understand your rights and exercise them!
4. Take care of your mind.
Whilst many women tend to focus on physical wellness during pregnancy, it’s also vitally important that you pay attention to your mental wellness. Being pregnant is both exciting and stressful at the same time; worry should be considered normal; seeking assistance if needed is always better than suppressing emotions – you deserve to feel joyful and healthy during your gestation period!
5. Take care of your partner.
One of the best things you can do during pregnancy is ensure your partner feels loved and supported. You can do this by simply being there for them, showing your love, learning more about what’s happening inside their body and in their baby’s, and getting involved. In addition, going along to appointments such as those held by doctors or midwives will give them extra confidence that everything they require for this journey has been provided for.
Your partner may feel nauseous and sick during the first trimester, which may reduce their appetite significantly; but don’t despair: make them home-cooked meals to bring over or run out to buy pickles or ice cream when necessary.
Your partner’s hormones should begin balancing out in the second trimester, leading them to feel healthier overall. But they may experience backaches, sciatica pain, round ligament contractions (known as Braxton Hicks contractions), as well as strange food cravings like pickles or ice cream.
Becoming familiar with pregnancy massage techniques will allow you to provide your partner with comfort during this discomforting experience. Furthermore, it’s advisable to speak to them about their moods during gestation – depression and anxiety are common conditions during gestation – if any signs arise of depression or anxiety it would be wise for you to encourage them to seek professional assistance such as counseling services, therapists, or doctors if required.
6. Take care of your baby.
Pregnancy can be difficult on both moms and babies alike, yet there are ways for women to remain empowered throughout the process. One effective strategy for doing this is learning self-advocacy skills – asking questions when needed, speaking up when appropriate, communicating your needs as a patient… While learning these new abilities might initially feel intimidating or daunting, self-advocating skills will prove essential during both your pregnancy experience as well as later in life.
Staying healthy during pregnancy is vitally important. A balanced diet and ample rest is key, along with avoiding foods known to cause foodborne illness like sushi, deli meats and unpasteurized cheese. Also make sure that any new medications you’re taking have been cleared by your provider as some painkillers and antihistamines should not be taken during gestation.
Attend all prenatal appointments as scheduled. This will enable your provider to gain a thorough picture of your gestation, identify any complications early, and discuss stress levels or personal issues you might be having with their guidance. It’s also important not to feel embarrassed to discuss personal matters with their advice as all information disclosed during pregnancies is strictly confidential – don’t feel afraid to speak freely and freely share anything you find out with them!
Be sure to enroll in pregnancy care classes that match up with the experience you envision during labor and delivery, providing you with tools for making informed decisions while remaining confident about them.