Going through pregnancy is one of the most intense periods in a woman's life - especially when it's the first time for you. Pregnant women know this - suddenly everyone chimes in with their (unwanted) advice on pretty much everything. Oh, and the books - walk into the pregnancy section in a bookstore and you wonder how there can be left enough paper for any other books - it's OVERWHELMING!
Now, books sort in various categories from the generic pregnancy tomes that include everything about every condition, stage, possibility, malady etc. etc. to the more alternative approaches, including personal opinions, memoirs and alternative healing and birthing strategies, etc. - oh, and don't even get me started on the books for the Afterward - nursing, co-sleeping, raising, the first year with baby...
I have leafed my way through pretty much every category, but for the past weeks, I have decided to put them all away and stop reading them because I have noticed that they actually just accentuate my stress levels instead of making me feel informed and rested. Upon chatting with a few other pregnant women, I have also realised that I don't seem to be the only one feeling like that. Knowing too much can also be harmful because you may end up faffing about every 1% disaster that may happen to you.
In my generic pregnancy book, there are about 30 pages where all the maladies, problems, diseases and syndromes are listed - truly nothing you want to read when you're pregnant (or ever, for that matter). Imagine someone always listed you all the things that could happen if you now drove away in your car - you'd stay at home for eternity. With so many things listed that could go wrong, you marvel how any children can actually be alive, happy and healthy. The truth is, most of these ailments happen to less than 1% of women, so I feel reading about them is not really necessary. I mean you also don't read about all the possibilities that could happen to you, if even very unlikely, when you get a flu shot or something like that.
So that book only nursed my panic of losing the baby and gave me fodder to obsess about - so out it went. However, the alternative books are not much better. If I read about one more story of a women who simply "breathed out her baby because she was so relaxed", I am going to hurl. I know I will feel like a failure if labour comes around and I will not stay as Zen as these books portray it if I buy into these stories too much. Same is with the obsession of home births in many of them - you're not a failure if you decide against traumatising your neighbours for eternity and actually have your baby in an environment that's equipped for it.
Same goes for breastfeeding. Before reading into the subject, I would have never thought there was a chance I couldn't breastfeed - I mean, it's kind of a natural thing, right? That's like being scared of not being able to push your baby out - your body usually knows what to do.
Anyway, the books kept droning on about what to do if it doesn't work, how to change to bottle-feeding - and I just slammed them shut and decided my obgyn and midwife will tell me what to do and that has to suffice. No more books on the matter.
There is actually really only one book I thoroughly enjoyed reading, which was neither dogmatic nor leaning towards the negative things that could happen and that was Hollie de Cruz's Hypnobirthing book (she's the founder of London Hypnobirthing). Compared to Marie Mongan's hypnobirthing book (who was the first to term Hypnobirthing)), it is far less dogmatic, concise, positive and informative, too. Her breathing and visualisation techniques have helped me relax tremendously and I still enjoy leafing through her book - but the others have been banned from my bookshelf, for now - maybe I'll get back to them just before the baby is due...
I cannot even count how often I've been to the doctor in the last year. Over the summer I checked in with my orthopaedic about every two weeks to fix my crooked hip (old ballet injury) and when I got pregnant, the doctor appointments just toppled over. Add the psycho and physiotherapy and you've got yourself an invalid, apparently.
Doctors and I have a very ambivalent relationship. Unlike my parents I don't belong to the super-alternative group who, as a principle, distrust doctors; however, it really comes down to how good your doctor is - and I have seen incredibly bad ones.
This week I went to see an orthopaedic in Innsbruck because my hip was acting up again and it was simply a disaster. So, first and foremost, I called ahead and told them I was eight months pregnant, so I wasn't sure if anything could be done anyway, but the scheduled me in nevetheless. Arriving there, I am led swiftly into one of the practices where a "doctor" tells me that, due to my pregnancy, there isn't anything he can actually do.
Thanks, that's two hours of my life down the drain (AND I have to pay for the stupid visit nevertheless!). In addition he drones on that he "doesn't believe in manipulation and only does injections".
Alright, I concede that doctors, too, have their personal opinions about their field, but I didn't come and pay to hear his "opinion" on manipulation, but to get better. I can't believe that someone who only pumps injections in people's backs can actually call himself an orthopaedic. I mean, if the hip is simply out of its socket or not well-aligned anymore, what's an injection going to change? It's ludicrous that someone like him can actually "help" people.
I asked him what the injections actually did - did they loosen the muscle and he, nonchalantly, said, "No, they just ease the pain."
So I asked what the long-term therapy would then be - for sure I can't be getting injections for the rest of my life, right?
Well, according to him back pain is incurable and regular injections are the only way to live with it.
Then I left. Dumbfounded and angry. How low can your bar as a doctor be to not even ATTEMPT to actually help someone but just give them painkillers? I am shocked once more how inadequate many doctors are - and worse how many people probably fall for their crap and instead of getting their skeleton fixed they live off painkillers and injections.
I think the problem is that doctors are still considered God-like by many people and they don't dare to disagree or call out their methods. As I said, I have nothing against doctors, but, like with everyone else, they are just people and some are better than others.
Sadly, I also have to say that more than often the NOT-doctor did much more to ease my pain and actually help me - energetics, masseurs, physiotherapists, etc. It often seems that doctors fail to see the person in front of them holistically but only look to the area you point at - even though the source of pain may actually be somewhere completely else.
Especially during pregnancy I have learnt how important it is to find doctors you trust - and most books encourage you to do so, too. Now more than ever, I feel it is pivotal to demand the best of doctors for my health, someone who thinks along my understandings of the body and who respects what I want to do to my body and what not.
So, next time you need a doctor, please really consider what this doctor wants to do to you - it's your body, after all, and you've got to live with it for the rest of your life. Not your doctor.
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