on not counting and measuring

During my second pregnancy, I chose not to do a lot.

No pregnancy tests: I knew I’d eventually figure it out, one way or the other.

No weighing, no scales: instead, I chose a care provider who saw and touched me often, and she and Eric and I all paid attention to shifts in my body with our eyes and hands.

No pelvic exams, during pregnancy or labor: instead, we practiced patience and followed my body’s insistent cues.

No ultrasounds or amniocentesis.

Almost no timing of contractions, which we did semi-obsessively when I was birthing Noah.

No timing and keeping track of breastfeeding sessions, side and duration and frequency, as we did during Noah’s early weeks. No counting diapers, either: we use cloth, after all, it’s not that hard to estimate by how often laundry needs to happen.

We said no a lot to counting, to measuring, to turning my experience and wellness into numbers.

But that doesn’t mean we said no to prenatal care or to awareness of our new baby’s well-being.

We chose, instead, a model of care centered on closeness and attentiveness. We experienced the experience rather than looking at screens to tell us what, exactly, we were experiencing. We did tests (like lots of bloodwork in our effort to get a grip on the endless nausea and fatigue) when they were indicated by our observations, not just for kicks. I said yes to regular urinalysis, which felt informative without feeling invasive, especially since I dipped and read the results myself (with help when they seemed unclear)–and to blood pressure, pulse, and temperature charting–and to measuring my growing belly and listening for the fetal heartbeat, both of which are rituals that I love. I journaled and reflected on patterns in my physical and emotional experiences. We all communicated, a lot.

I am lucky to have been able to say no responsibly and selectively. Lucky because we had access to respectful midwifery care. Lucky because our observations rarely indicated the need to test, measure, intervene. Lucky because I had any idea that I could say no, that healthcare providers can’t make you step on the scale, that pelvic exams don’t necessarily offer useful data, that you can indeed push your baby out without one.

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One Comment

  1. Posted 26 November 2012 at 1:30 PM | Permalink

    This, very much. I get a lot of “but don’t you LIKE medicine?!” responses to my homebirth, as if on one hand there is access to modern knowledge and technology and on the other is birthing in a cave in the Dark Ages. I’m glad you found your “No.”

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