For this pregnancy we've elected to use a midwife. Being in a new location, and not feeling like I needed an Ob/Gyn for my care, both Mark and I agreed that a midwife would be a nice alternative.
The midwife model of care is strikingly different than anything I've ever experienced, and I have to fully admit that I really like it. Mine does just what a doctor would do, i.e. check my weight, BP, urine, measurements, as well as monitor the baby using a Doppler. What's different is that midwives aren't doctors, they don't try to be doctors, and because of that a large amount of responsibility is put on the patient to take care of themselves, because if they don't, then the women will need a doctor.
At my first appointment my midwife, she handed me two large books and multiple handouts--all nutrition related. In them stated how much of certain foods and vitamins I needed, and then why they were important for me, baby, and the success of my labor and delivery. Wow! In addition to nutrition was another handout showing the many different exercises imperative to the growing strain of pregnancy on the body. The exercises are meant to relieve pain and pressure, but also to engage baby's head and strengthen the muscles and tissues pertinent to delivery.
It's all quite simple, really, and perhaps I've read this twice before with the other two pregnancies and brushed it aside, but this time it's required of me, and a large part of the success of a healthy pregnancy relies not on medicine, but on my ability to take care of myself. What a concept!
A few examples of how I'm trying to achieve a healthier pregnancy:
1). Calcium. My midwife wants me to drink a pint of milk everyday. Women, especially in COLD MN, are calcium (vitamin D) deficient. When growing a baby, the body will take calcium from a women's bones to makes the baby's bones. Also, calcium deficiency is a big culprit for those awful pregnancy leg cramps and restless legs.
2.) Iron. With 40% more blood than the non-pregnant state, iron is necessary for pregnancy health. Even more importantly, the stronger the blood, the less likely post partum hemmorage will be. For me, I'll start taking Alfalfa, in pill form, sometime in the next month. It has iron in it, but is known for it's blood-clotting abilities. I've actually done this with my first two after hearing the advice from a trusted family member. After two very clean and healthy deliveries, I'm a believer in the simple supplement.
There are many, many other nutritional needs for pregnant, women, as well as exercises for body and relaxation for labor. There is a lot on my plate to prepare my body for birth! I'm excited though, and glad that I have the opportunity to have someone challenge me to make myself, my baby, and my family healthier.