The Virtues of my Low Tech Pregnancy

This is my third pregnancy.  The first time around I was in the ER, looking at my baby through a cervical ultrasound when 6 weeks pregnant… after I had panicked when feeling some cramping.  That pregnancy began with the assumption that I was going to give birth in a hospital, so I started my prenatal care with OB’s who did the cervical exam, the usual screenings and checked in with dopplers at every visit. I enjoyed these visits, I was so excited to connect with my baby and talk about being pregnant.

Then the result of my AFP test was positive and we were sent to meet with a genetic counselor who urged us to have an amnio.  We opted for a level 2 ultrasound instead, and were moderately assured, but the rest of my pregnancy was forever tainted with anxiety about my child’s well being.  People would say, “Congratulations” as they so sweetly do when they see a woman ripe with child.  I would smile but secretly think, “Yes, but my baby may not be healthy.”  Looking back, I know for certain that this undercurrent of anxiety impacted my first child.  (And in my work, I have heard this story from many mothers since.)

Fortunately, I was introduced to friends who had given birth at home, and around month 5, switched my care to a midwife.  With her, I had a beautiful, transformative childbirth experience that opened the door to how differently we can experience pregnancy and birth.

drinking in my sweet healthy boy

With my second child, I knew enough to stay away from the prenatal testing that had offered no comfort and only anxiety the first time around.  Yet, I did continue to visit OB’s for routine prenatal care, as well as my midwives.  I had an ultrasound at 11 weeks and perhaps because I was receiving dual care, heard my baby’s heartbeat often with Dopplers.

With this, my third, pregnancy, feeling a bit more ‘seasoned’ and trusting the process of pregnancy, I took my time to visit a midwife.  Inspired by many friends who have had unassisted births at home (yes, that means they did it all on their own or with the help of only a partner or friend), I felt relaxed about letting the body do what it knows to do.

When I went to schedule my first OB appt., assuming I would access some dual care to get routine care covered through my HMO, I was scolded by the receptionist.  First for turning down the routine ultrasound scheduled for my first prenatal visit.  Then for refusing prenatal screening.  When it became clear to them that I expected to have choice in my prenatal care, the receptionist actually gave me a tirade to the tune of “You are advanced maternal age, we need to see if the baby is viable, your risks are higher!”  (I am 36)

Having had two successful births at home, the fear that she preached was shocking to me.  Fortunately I could see through this and recognize it as a system of control, but my heart went out to all the women who put so much trust in their OB’s and who are deeply affected by this debilitating, controlling fear that speaks to women “We know about this and you don’t.” A message which disempowers women at a time when they can actually be empowered like never before.

Needless to say I cancelled that appointment.  Remembering the routine medical approach helped me notice how this first trimester was feeling so easy and tranquil compared to my first two pregnancies.  I was inspired to keep going ‘low tech.’  So it wasn’t until about 14 weeks that I had my first prenatal visit with my midwife and heard this sweet baby’s heartbeat.

Of course, it was a learning curve for me to wait because I had gotten used to all the high tech checking in with dopplers and ultrasounds… like many, I had unwittingly become primed for the constant feedback loop we have become accustomed to in other realms.  (You mean I can’t just check my baby’s ‘status’ to find out how she/he is doing?!)

Yet I have been deeply steeped in awareness of how wonderful going ‘low tech’ is feeling.  A few key things are happening this time that hadn’t happened or had not happened with such clarity and intensity, before.

  • I feel dramatically calmer, more relaxed and more peaceful about this pregnancy overall.  (Beyond what might be natural for a third time mama)
  • When I have a concern about the baby’s well being, instead of looking outside to others, I practice what I preach and connect within and with spiritual guidance (including my baby’s guardian angel, and her/his own spirit.) The more I practice this, the more seamless or second nature it is and the more connected I feel within and with my baby throughout my pregnancy days.
  • Every time I tune in, in this way, my confidence and the richness of my experience as a pregnant woman is enhanced.  I am awakened to the greater levels of connection and wisdom that are available to us.  And the cells of my body are reminded of their inherent power to grow, sustain and birth new life.
  • The practice of connecting within has helped me to stay in a place of acceptance and surrender, the faith side of the pregnancy experience.  Each day, we are faced with the unknown and we can be fearful or we can be in faith.  Though, I recognize that I have little control over many outcomes, I feel assured that I am supported in the process.
  • I have a deeper sense of this baby’s essence which feeds my connection to him/her; a quiet comfort and solace in my busy days with two spunky children.  This also gives me some peace about transitioning to three because I can better envision our lives together.

Women all over the world who have not been exposed to routine medical intervention are walking around trusting the process, trusting their body for information, letting the process unfold. Women all over the world, walk through pregnancy listening to more than what they can hear through a device or see on a screen.  I am grateful to be walking in their footsteps.

Note:  This is no way to be interpreted as medical advise. Of course there are times when more frequent medical intervention/observation is warranted and helpful.  Every woman must make the choice that feels right, according to her own and her baby’s highest needs.

 

14 comments to The Virtues of my Low Tech Pregnancy

  • Jennifer

    When I told my OB I was having my baby at home and wouldn’t be coming to see him,he asked me if I wanted my baby to die.I delivered a 10 pound baby boy,with some complications,but a midwife handled them just fine.

    I love your empowering message for women to trust their bodies and to listen deeply within for their guidance to do what is best for them!

    Jennifer

  • Kristin

    Beautiful Sylvia! I’m looking forward to reading about your journey… XO

  • Carol Henke

    Beautiful! How I wish I had your wisdom during my pregnancy! You offer such a great alternative to the 9 months of fear. Thank you!

  • Sylvia

    Thanks Kristin! So nice to hear from you!

  • Sylvia

    Wow, Jenn, it’s amazing what women are told, how they are shamed, frightened and disconnected by those they put so much faith in. (Of course there are wonderful, supportive OB’s too.)
    What a beautiful testament to listening to your own inner knowing. I’m sure it wasn’t easy. I can’t even imagine someone saying something like that to me. (And yet in essence it is the subtext to many reactions about birth at home, isn’t it?) Hooray for you for trusting yourself and your body! Thank you so much for sharing this with me and the many mothers who will read this and be inspired to move past any obstacles to the power and connection within.

  • Sylvia

    Thank you Carol! So sweet to see you here. Every mother does her best. As you know it took me some time…and it is a journey….fear still comes up. Yet, connecting again and again is making all the difference. My hope is that mothers will be reminded to turn inward to the wells of peace that are within, whatever the journey brings. We are that strong!

  • Teri Rees-Momeyer

    What a beautiful post. I too had to be firm about invasive medical procedures during my first (and only) pregnancy because of my “advanced” age (35). My mantra was, “I am not having invasive or unnecessary medical procedures done based on my age. Period.” Though I gave birth in hospital (my husband previously lost a child in childbirth and I had to respect that he was too nervous for us to give birth at home)I did it naturally and with no medical intervention. I had a lovely doula who was a close personal friend and the easiest labor and delivery imaginable. Giving birth the way we were intended to is empowering and provides a solid foundation for the relationship you will have with that new little person. Thank you for sharing your story, it is so important that women tell about the wonder of pregnancy and childbirth rather than the “horror” stories. The more people like you who share what a joy it really is the more who will follow in your footsteps.

  • Sylvia

    Thank you Teri! What a wonderful story. I agree wholeheartedly that the more these positive stories are shared the more women can reawaken to what is truly possible for them and their children. Thank you for sharing a bit of your own journey of self-trust and empowerment!

  • giulia lawrence

    Well, Sylvia, as you know, I chose to go the route of prenatal screening with this, my second pregnancy, only to end up with six weeks of anxiety when my CVS came back inconclusive, indicating a possible genetic problem with my baby. I was then strongly encouraged to follow up with amnio, which I am glad to report, came back normal.
    But I ended up with two invasive procedures, where in my first pregnancy I had none, and both times, a healthy baby. I feel blessed that it all came to nothing.
    I thought the tests would give me greater peace of mind, that they would create a kind of roadblock to my tendency to worry. Now I realize that the only way I can change my tendency to worry is to work at letting go.
    I must say that I am thankful that I went through this during my second pregnancy, and not during my first. After my first birth experience and year of parenting, I have dramatically let go of the reins– the illusion of control. So, even while we were waiting for these tests and results, I surprised myself with how much I was able to surrender to the experience. Your wonderful, calm support was a significant part of that, as well. Thank you so much for the work that you do with Conscious Mothering. I am loving it.

  • Sylvia

    Oh Giulia, I am so happy to hear that you received a clear result from your amnio! Love this: “Now I realize that the only way I can change my tendency to worry is to work at letting go.” So gracefully said, and so true. You came to your surrender on your own, and were simply held in your truth, by all of us. It was deeply moving to see you move through this with so much presence and courage. I am grateful you are loving CM! I love it too, and thank you for joining me in this amazing journey!

  • Monica

    Thanks for sharing. What a beautiful transformation and journey you’re on.

  • Sylvia

    Thank your for reading Monica and sharing the journey with me!

  • Eva

    Sylvia, first of,Congratulations! How exciting to be expecting another baby! A wonderful article, i can relate to some that was mentioned. First pregnancy= all the test one can imagine, but i kept going into labor and ended up on bed rest, only to have my son get injured at birth by an OB that did not listen to my concerns..Second pregnancy, a new OB, a new hospital, only 1 ultrasound, much more relaxed and 0 problem pregnancy and we did go back and forth bethween a home birth and a C- section the whole pregnancy, but knowing what happened to our son and fearing it could happen again ( a human nature, i know), we did have a c-section with our DD. Did not like it a bit,but our DD was born healthy. She did develop health issues shortly after birth, but non due to the C-section. We would like to have a 3rd baby and i would so love to have a water birth at home. It may remain a wish only, but i will certainly entertain this thought fully and hope for the best.
    Thank you for sharing your story!

  • Sylvia

    Eva, thank YOU for sharing your story! So glad to see you here! Birth is so unpredictable and we always do our best with the choices we have at the time, don’t we? Essentially that is true about every step of the mothering journey! I know of many women who have had VBAC’s at home in the water, but there are also options in between…birth centers, supportive midwives in hospitals. When the blessed time comes, you may want to get in touch with your local ICAN chapter and simply explore the options that are available to you! With the power of women, anything is possible!

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