How to Choose Your Birth Team

Support is a major component of a healthy and happy pregnancy, labor, and birth.  Choosing the right birth team for you will lay the foundation for a confident journey. It sounds so easy, choosing a birth team, but the truth is that it may take some shopping around.  What is right for one mother, may not be right for another.  The important thing to remember is that you are the one who needs to feel at peace with the choice. Before interviewing potential birth team members, you need to ask yourself:
  1. What type of birth do you envision?
  2. Where do you plan to give birth?  (Hospital, In-hospital Birth Center, Free-Standing Birth Center, Home)
  3. What are your local options?
  4. Who do you want in the ‘delivery room’?
Your answers will help guide you toward the right choices. It is also of utmost importance that you tour many birth locations and speak with multiple birth care professionals.  Meeting or touring only one option may seem easy, but has the probability to come back to haunt you later. Learn to ask questions!  No one in the birth industry should make you feel uneducated, unintelligent, or uncared for – so ask all of the questions you want.  If they are not given suitable answers, move on to your next option, GUILT FREE.  

Birth Team Members and Optional Members

You, the laboring mother. Spouse or Partner Family or Friends:  As long as they are supportive and serve as a positive energy to the labor, they can be beneficial. Doula: A doula does not replace your partner or support person.  She has a completely different role to fill.  A doula can aid in every birth situation, no matter the environment or birth style you choose. She gives support emotionally, mentally, and physically.  She can calm you through relaxation techniques, movements, and positions.  Having a well-educated doula is comparable to having a reference book of labor lying open next to you; she is full of information and will help support informed decisions. She is comforting to both the laboring mother and the partner, ensuring that the partner has an active role in the birth. She can also advocate for the mother throughout labor. However, a doula is not a medical professional.  She cannot diagnose or give medical advice.  She also cannot legally deliver your baby. That being said, research greatly supports having a doula present at your birth.  It has been proven that a doula provides:
  • 50% less chance of an unnecessary c-section 25% shorter labor time
  • 60% less chance of an unplanned epidural
  • 30% less chance in needed an instrumental-assisted delivery
  • 40% less chance of needing Pitocin
Medical Professionals: Obstetricians. The most common choice; an OB/GYN is taught and trained to focus on and find problems that may arise in pregnancy.  They are surgeons and can handle cesarean sections of other not-normal pregnancy issues. Insurance is more likely to cover an OB/GYN over other birth care providers, and many couples feel safer being under their eye and in a hospital setting.    Certified Nurse Midwife. A certified nurse with extended study in midwifery care.  Typically, a CNM works in a hospital setting and alongside an OB/GYN, but not always. All midwives are trained to support and aid pregnancies as a normal and natural part of life, instead of treating problems. Certified Professional Midwife. A CPM handles normal, healthy pregnancies outside of a hospital, at free-standing birth centers and home births. She practices based on the Midwifery Model of Care. CPMs carry a small client load and provide a very personal and attentive relationship. They support, guide, and educate women to make informed decisions, and provide little medical intervention to pregnancy, labor, and birth. Midwife Assistant Attending the birth, a MA provides assistance to the midwife. Other Potential Birth Team Members While these professionals may not attend the birth (but they can!), they can play a significant role throughout pregnancy and labor – and after:
  • Chiropractor
  • Acupuncturist
  • Homeopath
It is your right to make the best decisions for you, and your birth team’s responsibility to follow your wishes.  It is legally required that all details be presented to you for the best choices to be made. If you do not agree with something, your birth team legally must respect your wishes. While 98% of women are still birthing in a hospital, more and more are choosing to give birth outside of this setting.  It is important that you know that you can make changes to your birth team at any point of your pregnancy. If you are not feeling supported or change your views, you may switch providers without feeling any guilt.  This is your pregnancy and your birth, and your team I working for you.   birth1   References: http://americanpregnancy.org/labor-and-birth/having-a-doula/   http://www.dona.org/resources/research.php http://evidencebasedbirth.com/the-evidence-for-doulas/ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23076901 http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db144.htm http://www.birthcenters.org/?page=NBCSII http://narm.org/ http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db144.htm
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