Early in your pregnancy, it is important to make thoughtful decisions about who will be your caregiver and where you plan to give birth. These major decisions can influence:
the care that you receive and the effects of that care
the quality of your relationship with your main and other caregivers
the amount of information you receive
the choices and options you will have, particularly during your labor and birth
the degree to which you are involved with decisions about your care.
If you are a well and healthy childbearing woman (as are most pregnant women in the U.S.), you can choose a midwife or a doctor as your maternity caregiver. Please learn about the midwifery model of care and the medical model of care, as well as different kinds of midwives and doctors who provide maternity care. This helps you find the right caregiver for you. Read the entire, very informative articlehere.
The Best Way to Choose a *Compatible* Care Provider
To choose a obstetrician or midwife who will support your requests for your baby’s birthing, research and create a birth ‘plan’ that outlines your preferences. After you’re clear about what you want for your baby’s birthing, get recommendations from women who have already had the birth experience you’d like to create.
Call your insurance carrier, and ask if the list of providers you are considering are covered under your plan.
Call to request an interview with the most promising midwives and obstetricians on the list. If any are unwilling to meet with you prior to your deciding to enlist their services, you might consider whether their policy is a match for your desires.
Do they have hospital privileges at a facility you prefer? Do they offer birth center or home births if that’s your preference? (See our blog post – “Choosing a Compatible Birth Facility”)
During the interview, pay attention to your instincts as you ask your questions. Notice the obstetrician’s or midwife’s ‘bedside manner’. Do they put you at ease, or put you off? Notice the competency of their staff, and their level of enthusiasm. Note the condition of the offices as well. Who answers the phone in an after-hours emergency? Can you call or email the provider with your non-emergency questions? If they are a midwife who does home births or birth center births, are prenatal visits in your home or in their facility?
Share your list of birth preferences during the initial interview. As you do so, notice the care provider’s reaction to your birth preferences and their tone of voice. Do you feel encouraged or frustrated by their responses? Do they make you feel like you’re in charge of your birthing, or do you feel like you are being told what you can expect?
Have they worked often with couples who have prepared for the kind of birth you want? If not, are they willing to support you?
Ask the care provider about their typical course of prenatal care: What prenatal tests and procedures do they routinely recommend, and when? Are there any additional tests that they would require for you, based upon on any special circumstances or requests that you might have? Would they support your decision if you declined any of them (for instance prenatal vaginal exams, or monthly ultrasounds)?
What are your chances of having your own midwife or obstetrician attend and assist with your birth? Do they work within a group of like-minded providers? How many backups are there? Can you meet with each of them during your pregnancy to become acquainted with them and to share your birth preferences?
If these things are of concern to you, ask them what percentage of their patients have:achieved natural childbirth?, given birth in whatever position they choose? expelled their placentas without the aid of Pitocin or traction?, waited for the cord to cease pulsing before clamping and cutting?, breastfed immediately after birth?, doulas?, been induced?, episiotomies?, continuous monitoring?, routine IVs?, their membranes ruptured?, eaten food during birthing?, required vacuum assistance or cesarean sections?, been satisfied with their experience and returned for care with subsequent pregnancies?
Can they provide references: from local childbirth educators, pediatricians, doulas, former patients, and colleagues?
As you decide on your maternity care provider, please consider Midwifery Carewhich is based on the fact that pregnancy and birth are normal life processes.
What is a midwife?
A midwife is a trained professional with special expertise in supporting women to maintain a healthy pregnancy birth, offering expert individualized care, education, counseling and support to a woman and her newborn throughout the childbearing cycle.
A midwife works with each woman and her family to identify their unique physical, social and emotional needs. When the care required is outside the midwife’s scope of practice or expertise, the woman is referred to other health care providers for additional consultation or care.
Midwifery care includes:
Monitoring the physical, psychological, and social well-being of the mother throughout the childbearing cycle
Providing the mother with individualized education, counseling, and prenatal care, continuous hands-on assistance during labor and delivery, and postpartum support
Minimizing technological interventions
Identifying and referring women who require obstetrical attention
The application of this woman-centered model of care has been proven to reduce the incidence of birth injury, trauma, and cesarean section.