The following article has been contributed by Kaylah Cruz-Herrera, a birth, and postpartum doula and founder of Water & Dates Doula Services in Amman, Jordan.
The content of this article is intended for informational purposes only, not to provide medical advice. If you have any medical questions, please consult a medical professional.
When I first found out I was pregnant with my daughter in May 2017 I was overwhelmed. I was excited to become a mother, but I was terrified of birth. The more I read about birth, the more certain I was that I wanted a natural birth with as little medical intervention as possible. However, as an American living in Amman, I didn’t have knowledge of the local birth system and I didn’t believe it was possible to achieve the type of birth I was envisioning.
In the end, I traveled back to the United States to give birth at home with a midwife. It was a beautiful, empowering birth experience, but my husband, a Palestinian national, wasn’t able to be at the birth of his first child.
Since then, I have trained as a doula and learned about all the birth options that are available to women in Amman. Pregnant women contact me asking, “Can I have a natural/unmedicated birth in Amman? Can I have a homebirth in Amman? Can I have a VBAC in Amman? Can I have a doula in Amman?” And my answer is, “Yes, yes, yes, and yes!”
Some options are simply unavailable in Amman, such as birth centers and water births. However, many birth preferences can be negotiated with obstetricians and hospitals. For example, hospital routine might be that the baby has to sleep in the nursery, but you can request that your baby room with you.
The key to achieving the birth you want in Amman is communication and trust between you and your care provider. Your OB, not the nurses on shift, has the final say on whether or not your birth preferences will be accommodated. Below is an outline on how to build a care team that will support you throughout your birth and help you achieve a positive birth experience, whatever the outcome.
Develop your birth preferences.
Read books about pregnancy and birth. Do your research on common medical interventions during childbirth and develop an informed opinion on your birth preferences. Outline your preferences in a clear and concise manner. Try to keep this outline no longer than one page and focus on the points that are most important to you. (For an idea of what a birth preferences outline can look like, check this out.)
By developing a list of birth preferences early you will be better able to choose an obstetrician who can support you and the birth you want.
During the first trimester, interview obstetricians. Go over your birth preferences with the OB. Ask questions. A good OB will welcome your questions and address your concerns thoughtfully. A bad OB will become hostile or standoffish to any questions.
Of course, in the case of a medical emergency, your OB might not be able to accommodate all of your preferences. However, there should always be communication and trust between you and your OB. If during the interview process the OB makes statements such as, “On the day of the birth, I will be the one who makes that decision,” this is a red flag for how they would treat you during your actual birth.
You and your OB should work as a team to make sure that your body and your birth preferences are respected. If at any point your OB makes you feel otherwise, consider finding a new provider that you can trust.
For recommendations and reviews of OBs in Amman, check out the private Facebook group Baby & Toddler Group Amman.
Tour local hospitals and labor wards. Ultimately, it is your OB who has the most influence on whether or not your birth preferences can be accommodated. Some OBs attend births at more than one hospital. By touring those hospitals, you can choose the right fit.
While on a hospital tour, ask yourself: Could I get here quickly and easily while in labor? Are there private labor rooms, or will you have to share the room with other women? Are the rooms large enough to accommodate a birth ball or walking? Will my partner be able to accompany me throughout the birth? Can I afford to give birth at this hospital?
Consider a homebirth.
Homebirth with a professional, certified midwife is a safe option for women with low-risk pregnancies who know that they do not want an epidural or other medical pain relief. Throughout your pregnancy, you will have regular prenatal appointments with your midwife to ensure the health of you and your baby. Your midwife can also request blood tests and ultrasounds for you.
There is currently one professional homebirth midwife in Amman:
Eman Tanbour, +962 7 9676 2714
Labor at home for as long as safely possible.
Some hospitals and OBs simply can’t or won’t accommodate your birth preferences. In the comfort of your own home, you have the freedom to manage your labor in any way you’d like. If you are interested in alternative pain relief during labor such as water (bathtub or shower), birth balls, aromatherapy, touch, and massage, etc, consider laboring at home for as long as safely possible. By doing so, you can avoid unnecessary medical interventions that can cascade into an emergency C-section.
If your contractions are four minutes apart or your water has broken, you must go to the hospital or contact your midwife.
Consider hiring a doula.
A doula is a non-medical professional who helps women and their partners throughout pregnancy and birth. A doula can help you and your partner identify and articulate your most important birth preferences and teach you and your partner comfort measures for labor pain. During labor, a doula can help you manage early labor at home and determine when is the best time for you to transfer to the hospital.
There are currently three practicing doulas in Amman: