Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The "Birth Buffet"

With pregnancy comes a complicated mess of decisions that must be made. When faced with all the options and choices involved in every possible decision related to her baby, a woman often feels as though she is standing at the end of an endless buffet, filled with yummy, delectable things she wants to eat BUT she is limited to a single plate. This is not an "all you can eat" buffet, but rather, a "pay per pound" sort of thing. She has one shot to fill up her one plate with all the things she needs to begin life with her new baby. If she forgets something, or mistakes iceberg lettuce for romaine, then that's just too bad.

Among the plethora of decisions to be made concerns methods of birth. Will she have a natural birth, or will she have drugs? Will she be on her back with her feet up in the air, or will she be walking around and using all the nifty gadgets like birth balls and the birthing stool? Will she be attended by a doctor, a midwife, a doula, none of the above, all of the above? Will she give birth in the hospital, at a birthing center, or at home? How soon after giving birth will she try to breastfeed? WILL she try to breastfeed? Will the baby room with her, or will he/she be taken to the nursery at nighttime?

While I understand that advancements in medical technology have saved many a mother's and baby's life, I often think that our techno-society tends to just complicate things!! Back in the day, there were no choices such as the ones I mentioned above. The woman knew she was going into labor, and she had the baby. That's it. Easy. Simple. However, should I experience some medical problem during my birth/delivery, you bet I'll want all of those "techno-complications" !!

I guess the question is, where does one draw the line? At what point do we utilize the technology because we truly need it, as opposed to using it simply because it's there? This is something I have been grappling with. I have friends on either side of the debate, all of whom insist that their way is the best way. Well, I'm not them, and my baby isn't their baby. So what's a girl to do? No one else can make these decisions for her, because no one else is experiencing what she is experiencing. No one else knows her body the way she does.

(Then of course, there's the issue of medical insurance and its intrusions, I mean influences, on decision-making...but I shall save THAT discussion for another post!)

It can just all be overwhelming. Then, there are decisions about how to decorate the nursery, what brand of car seat to purchase, whether or not to buy the "travel system" or separate stroller and infant carrier, does the baby need long sleeved or short sleeved onesies, and how many in what sizes? Will the baby like all the things that have been purchased for him/her, or will he/she even be aware of them? Will the crib bedding that I so carefully selected and agonized over even matter to this little person? Just thinking about all these decisions makes my head spin.

Yet it is exciting, when one embarks upon this mission of decisions. Because with every choice I make, I influence the development of my little child in some way. Some are big ways, others are more subtle. It is a totally new experience, knowing that my decisions will profoundly affect another person's life for years to come.

Welcome to the Birth Buffet.

1 comment:

Damselfly said...

I hear ya! It's a real learning curve once you find out you're expecting. Like in so many other areas of our society, we can be overwhelmed with choices. Eventually, you will find things that just click with you, and be confident in your decisions. No matter what other people say.