Giving Birth in 2021: Regaining Your Birthing Rightsby Elizabeth MacDonald
Last year was full of isolation and loneliness, especially for moms and mothers-to-be. It was a time of missed celebrations, overlooked milestones, and fear. These moments cannot be given back; however, the days ahead can be better. We learned just how strong women are from 2020. They gave birth masked and alone. Some were needlessly separated from their newborns, leading to challenges with breastfeeding, bonding, and stacking the deck toward postpartum depression to experience without support. We know now just how empowered women can be, and it is time to regain our birthing freedoms for 2021.
While COVID-19 and its mutations are alive and present; the extreme trepidations (and overly-sanitized homes with no outside germ exposure) are not healthy for a pregnancy. With a wealth of information about healthy lifestyle choices, proper clean eating, vitamin intake, exercise, and needed germ exposure, we can adapt and move forward with confidence. The hardest part of this journey is taking your health into your own hands.
Hospitals may still have extreme protocols in place, but you have the ability to fight and have the birth you deserve. You must be educated and make the best decisions for yourself, your baby, and your family - even if that means standing up (respectfully and kindly) and going against the masses. If we want normalcy - or even a mutual compromises - we must fight harder now than ever before. Giving birth masked and alone, setting mothers up for the domino effect of interventions, post-birth challenges, and entering motherhood without the ‘village,’ is not okay. 2021 can be the shift that opens the eyes of so many to make these changes. Let’s own our births again.
2021: Regaining Your Birthing Rights
A healthy, typical pregnancy should be treated as such. This means that you have several options outside of a hospital setting:
Consider a Homebirth
The alternative birthing community was overwhelmed in 2020 with women who wanted to birth outside of the hospital. So many were turned away, though, because they were not actually prepared for an unmedicated, natural birth. A homebirth is successful when both partners and birth team are on the same page. You must be educated and ready (as easy as taking amazing birthing classes!). This option also allows you to remain in the comforts of your home, which speaks for itself right now.
Choose a Freestanding Birth Center
Want to meet in the middle? A freestanding birth center is the perfect option for those not ready for a homebirth. It has a homelike feeling, and allows you your space and time with your partner.
Utilize a Midwife
Your bond and relationship with your birthing team is vital right now. If you can have a doula along with your partner, that would be even better, but a midwife establishes that foundation for a truly supported birth.
Even if birthing outside of a hospital scares you, consider your risks of birthing within one right now. Weigh both sides well before choosing. Perhaps a midwife at a hospital works for you, or search for an OB who will allow your partner with you at every appointment. The point is to not settle.
All pregnancies deserve personalized care. Even if you are in a higher-risk category, consider the following:
Interview Multiple Birth Teams
OB’s are not one size fits all. Find the practice that you connect with and respects your wishes. You want a team that will fight for your rights and not make you feel wrong for wanting them.
Take Multiple Birthing Classes
Whether you plan a natural birth, a medicated labor, or need a c-section, well-studied birthing classes are a must. You want to be educated and ready for anything.
Read Everything About Pregnancy, Labor, Birth, and the Newborn Stage
Again, your knowledge is the key to achieving the birth you want in 2021.
Write a Thorough Birth Plan
You must put in writing what you want. You must then spend an hour or more reviewing this with your birth team. If you are not on the same page, there is always time to find a new team. You don’t get any do-overs once labor has started, so fight the good fight now.
Setup a Support System
You need a village after your baby arrives. This includes trustworthy friends and family members. It means having loved ones come over to check on you so you are not alone.
Interview Several Pediatricians
No one talks about what happens after you give birth. You must have a pediatrician lined up, and today that means finding one that supports your choices for your baby and does not push anything on you.
Do Not Go Against Your Gut Intuition on Anything
That sixth sense you gain as a mother is there for a reason. Do not ever (EVER) ignore it.