Obstetrician, Midwife, Doula, pediatrician and more! There are so many options when it comes to getting the care you need for pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. But it's important to know who these providers are, and what they can do for your journey.
A midwife is truly the gold standard of maternal care. Considering that most people are considered low risk during pregnancy, most people should be seeing a midwife for maternal care. Under the midwifery model of care, more time is spent with each patient, and there tends to be a higher rate of satisfaction with the pregnancy and birth experience. Why is this? It mostly has to do with the midwifery approach. They tend to view birth as a normal physiologic experience. All of our bodily functions don't need much intervention to work, and they view birth in the same way. This hands off approach allows for more patience, time, and a wider range of "normal" for clients. This, in turn, allows for more autonomy for the patient, reduces medical intervention, improves outcomes, and leaves patients with an overall better experience.
Now, where do midwives work?
Homebirth Midwife - These midwives work exactly where it says. In your home! Sometimes they have an office location for you to visit, but for the most part, you will deliver your baby in your home! There are so many advantages to a homebirth, but they certainly aren't for everyone. I'd encourage you to reach out to your local doulas or homebirth midwives if you're interested in this option.
Birth Center - This is a great in between option for those who don't want a homebirth, but don't want to go to a hospital either. Birth Centers aren't available everywhere, but if there's on in your area this could be a great option for you!
Hospitals - You heard it! You can get this fantastic care in a hospital! This is a fantastic option for people who want - or need - to have a hospital birth, but are looking for a more natural or hands off approach to their pregnancy and birth.
This is where most of American patients get their maternal care. An obstetrician is a surgeon that specifically deals with pregnant, birthing, and postpartum patients. Unfortunately, due to the set up of the American Medical System, the care isn't always as personal as you would get with a midwife. Typically appointments are about 15 minutes long, and they usually only attend the pushing stage of birth, unless needed otherwise. With midwives, the appointments are up to an hour long each, and they typically attend most, if not all of your birth. The overall approach of Obstetrician's tends to be different as well. Rather than birth being a hands off event, there tends to be more intervention. With OB's there's a higher rate of inductions, surgery, and other medical interventions. Alot of times this is looked at as a bad thing, but it's important to remember that some people want or need those interventions. So if you are a patient that falls outside the realm of "low risk", or desire certain interventions, then an obstetrician is absolutely the right provider for you! There are SO many reasons people need, or choose, a birth with more interventions. What matters most is that you are informed in your decisions, supported throughout, and have a positive experience! For many, an obstetrician is the answer to those needs!
Everyone. Needs. A. Doula. Homebirth? Doula. Hosptial? Doula. In the car? Doula. in your back yard next to a baby deer? Doula. A doula isn't actually a medical provider. So they don't replace your midwife or OB. Instead, they fill in all of the gaps that your provider doesn't get. They're more focused on your comfort and emotional well being, so your provider can focus their attention on the safety of you and your baby. I'd highly recommend checking out this article for more on what a doula can do for you!
An out of hospital childbirth ed class is an absolute must! Not only does education have the power to reduce your fear and pain, but it can improve outcomes as well! It's so easy to get caught up in the "I'll just see what happens" train. But what this ideology fails to address is that you're the one driving the train!! In order to make the best decisions for you and your baby, you need to have a good bit of knowledge before making those decisions. Here's a few things to look for when signing up for a class:
Time commitment - some classes are several months long! And others are just a few hours. Find one that fits your needs and schedule.
Find one that aligns with your goals.
Look for a variety of coping mechanisms! If it's teaching just one, that may not be enough for you, or if that one doesn't work, you need to have other options!
Take an in person class if you're able! There are alot of great online options, but one of the best parts of an in person class is the community! There's something so powerful about being in a room full of people in the same life stage as well. Plus, if you need more information, or have questions after the class, you have a human to reach out to, not just a customer service line.
I highly recommend the Gentlebirth class, as it checks off this list, plus so much more!
A Few Others...
There are so many great providers that can support you through your pregnancy, here are some of my other honorable mentions:
- Massage Therapist
- Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist
- Lactation Consultant