Do What Works Parenting: Pregnancy and Birth


Parenting is flooded with acronyms; CIO, RIE, BLW, EBF, and on and on. I’ve been a mom for almost ten years now, and the only acronym that has worked for me consistently is DWW: Do What Works! While parenting books, websites, experts, and groups are all useful in helping you find what works for you, it’s up to you to decide whether or not to heed their advice.

do what works

My first introduction to this do what works philosophy came before I even gave birth. During my first pregnancy, my midwife and OBs were full of conflicting advice. I was told to eat more and lose weight, exercise but rest, and take a multitude of tests but not worry about the results. Like so many moms, I had to figure out what gave me peace. I refused all of the invasive tests like amniocentesis, but consented to blood tests and a few ultrasounds. About 20 weeks into the pregnancy, an alpha-feta-protein (AFP) test came back with concerning results, so I had three specialized ultrasounds only to find out the conception date was wrong in the chart the doctors were using to calculate growth.

This confirmed my resolve to do what works and avoid unnecessary testing. I made sure to research every test offered at each following prenatal appointment and refused many more. Still, my pregnancy ended in a traumatic and possibly unnecessary emergency C-section, and it took me years to consider having another baby. I didn’t want to relive the vulnerability, trauma, and worry pregnancy and birth caused. I had to do what worked for me.

It took six years and lots of healing for me to consider the idea of having another child, and when I got pregnant with my second daughter, I was determined to have a different birth experience. As soon as I saw that pink line, I started asking around for midwives who would support me in not only a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC), but a home birth after cesarean (HBAC). After several interviews with amazing Portland midwives, I found my midwives. Talking with them filled me with relief because I knew I could trust them to treat me with respect, explain my options, and help me process my concerns and fears about this birth. 

Most people, including my hospital-based obstetric team, were surprised I would even attempt a home birth after a surgical birth, but I had to push their fears aside and do what works for us. My first daughter was allowed to attend several of the prenatal visits, listen to her little sister’s heartbeat, and measure my belly. The midwives allowed my husband to process his fears about an out-of-hospital birth and learn how to support me in labor (a new experience for him), and they helped me find ways to cope with fibromyalgia pain without medication. When I was faced with the disappointing news of gestational diabetes, the midwives helped me with my fear, anxiety, and maintaining healthy blood sugar levels with diet and exercise. 

Through it all, my ‘do what works’ mentality paid off. My second daughter was born at home on her due date after only five hours of true labor. She was exactly the size she needed to be, despite ultrasounds warning she was “too big.” Her big sister came in the room as I was delivering the placenta, and our whole family cuddled up in the bed just minutes after the birth. This birth was yet another example of choosing what worked for our family, and I will never regret the strength and effort it took for me to push for the birth I knew I could have. 

There are numerous other examples of Do What Works Parenting I will touch on in upcoming DWW series installments. I encourage you to find your own DWW moments and do what works for you and your family in all facets of your parenting. Have a DWW birth story of your own? I’d love to hear them in the comments!

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Aside from being a writer, Kendra is a Birth Trauma Doula at KarysMa Birth, where she helps moms find their joy after birth trauma. A former middle school English and theatre teacher, she has an insatiable love for learning and a flair for the dramatic. Among the best moments of her life, she counts marrying her husband Steve during a dream rainbow wedding, planning a princess picnic on the beach with her eight year old daughter Karys, giving birth to her one year old daughter Saryn in the middle of a blizzard, and sitting on stage with Glennon Doyle. A Navy brat for the first 13 years of her life, Kendra settled in Virginia for eighteen years before she was finally ready to move again, relocating to Portland in 2014. You can find her work on Portland Moms Blog, The La Leche League Blog, and The Not Your Average Mom Project, as well as the hard drive of her computer.