The Do-It-Yourself Pregnancy

It’s exciting to be an expectant mother. Even if you have to deal with nausea for the first few months and backaches for the rest of the pregnancy, growing a baby in your uterus is a wonderful experience. Of course, as soon as you read the results of your pregnancy test, you might be wondering what you need to do next.

For most women, being pregnant means subjecting yourself to numerous prenatal appointments. Most of them are boring and tedious, especially if your caregiver doesn’t spend a lot of time with you. After all, what does it really mean to you to get tested throughout your pregnancy?

While prenatal testing can detect problems early, prenatal care doesn’t usually help in resolving those problems. In fact, you can compare prenatal care to dental exams. During an exam, your dentist might find a cavity, but having regular dental checkups won’t do anything to prevent the cavity from appearing in the first place. Similarly, prenatal care can’t prevent problems during pregnancy. So what can you do?

Depending on your general philosophies in life, the best you can do is just try to be healthy, and not just during pregnancy. Obviously, that means eating a healthy diet, getting exercise, getting sunshine, and feeling at peace with yourself. And while you should make a special effort to avoid a few things during pregnancy, such as x-rays, smoking, and drugs, most women can continue to go on with their lives as before. But if you’d feel more comfortable getting regular prenatal care, then you could certainly do some of that yourself, too.

Do-it-yourself prenatal care might involve one or more of the following things:

  • Tracking weight gain
  • Tracking the size of your uterus
  • Checking your blood pressure
  • Testing your urine
  • Checking baby’s heart rate
  • Getting blood work done at a doctor’s office

Of the women who give birth unassisted, some of them receive prenatal care from a doctor or midwife. Some freebirthers choose to do their own prenatal care at home. Others are hands off and decide not to monitor anything at all. There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer her. Women basically need to choose the option they feel most comfortable with.

What to Expect Without “Normal” Prenatal Care

Logically, there is no reason why pregnant women have to seek prenatal care. Most exams and tests don’t change the outcome of the pregnancy. If you’re currently not healthy, receiving regular prenatal care isn’t going to make you so, either. Now, while having prenatal care is something you can do without, you can also choose to do some of your own care at home. But what can you expect during a pregnancy without regular prenatal care?

Actually, nothing really changes except for that you don’t have to waste your afternoons at the doctor’s office. But in the beginning of the pregnancy, not having prenatal care might make the pregnancy seem less real. If you don’t have a stethoscope at home, you won’t be listening to your baby’s heartbeat. And while that only happens every four weeks with regular prenatal care, it still seemed to make a difference, at least emotionally.

However, once you are far enough along where you can feel your baby moving, then you don’t need additional reminders from a doctor or a midwife that you are pregnant. At this point, a miscarriage is quite unlikely, and you will be in your second trimester, feeling pretty good about yourself.

So what can you do before you feel the baby move to make the pregnancy feel real?

  • You could take another pregnancy test. And another. And another. (But don’t spend too much money on them; get them at the Dollar store.)
  • You can calculate your due date again.
  • You can use a stethoscope to listen to the baby’s heartbeat (or ask someone who has one and knows how to use it).
  • You can talk to the baby.
  • You can talk to the baby’s father about the baby.
  • You can start reading baby name books.
  • You can look at baby clothes.

Alternatively, you could just pretend that you’re not pregnant for a while. As long as you stay away from alcohol and the likes, eat healthy, and stay active, there is nothing wrong with that. Besides, the baby will remind you next time you wake up with morning sickness…