Childbirth is an area of medicine that has seen a lot of changes throughout history. Your grandmother had a very different pregnancy & childbirth experience than you will have, & what is even more surprising is that your mother probably also had different recommendations throughout her pregnancy & birth. It is hard to enter into such a life-changing event not knowing who to look for for guidance – what is the current information, who knows what is truly best, & where do I find out these answers?
It is important to know your options & start planning for childbirth in a way that will best for you & your growing baby. In this post I will cover some of the options available along with some of my personal experience.
A New Mom’s Team
Some will argue that having a child should not be such a clinical experience or treated as an illness, but I never personally felt like I had that type of experience. It was incredible to be able to learn more about what was going on with my body as new life grew within me, and it was comforting to know that I had a whole team there for me with the goal of keeping me & my baby healthy.
Caregiving teams are often made up of a combination of the following people…
- Certified nurse midwives (CNMs) – They can serve as primary care providers, prescribe medications, order tests, and deliver babies. However, a nurse midwife cannot perform surgery.
- Obstetricians or gynecologists (OBGYNs) – They are doctors with diverse medical training who are able to perform surgery if it becomes necessary.
- Doulas – They serve as a support for mothers during labor; however, they are not a replacement for medical care providers.
- Family – Partners, parents, siblings, friends, etc can all also be a huge support throughout pregnancy & labor.
It is important for each mother to be comfortable with everyone in her support network. Some women prefer a doula with a wealth of childbirth experience to help her through labor while other women prefer the intimacy of their partner being their birth coach. It is also important to not get stuck in a certain mindset about certain titles… I have had OBGYNs who have been very patient & have a wonderful bedside manner, & I have had CNMs who were rushing me through the motions without taking the time to see how I was doing emotionally. Every mom has a different experience, & it is okay to be vocal & figure out the support team that will work best for you.
Three Main Childbirth Locations
Women in the United States typically deliver their babies in one of three places – a hospital, a birth center, or at home. The location is dependent mostly on how pregnancy & labor is going. Higher risk pregnancies & labor complications quickly change any plans to deliver out of a hospital, but it can be helpful to at least consider some options ahead of time.
In my area, there seem to be two main ways to determine where you want to deliver your baby.
- You choose where you want to deliver, & then you find care providers that work within that system.
- Or you choose a care provider, & then you deliver wherever they have access.
The key can be finding both aspects of this equation that you are happy with. If you want a home birth, you will need to find a care provider who is willing & able to support you in that. If you want to deliver at a particular hospital with a great NICU, then you will need to find out which practices have access to that hospital.
Hospitals continue to be the most common place for childbirth within the United States, yet the hospital experience ranges greatly. Some hospitals offer exclusive labor & delivery wings separate from the rest of the hospital, some offer state of the art NICUs, some offer large jet tubs for water births, some have your baby room-in with you instead of having babies stay in a nursery, some give you skin to skin right after a c section, some have lactation consultants on staff, etc.
I would highly recommend taking tours of your local options to find the one that seems like the best fit for you & your family.
Weigh Your Options
There are many options & scenarios to consider when trying to plan for childbirth. It is important to find wonderful care providers & a wonderful location to deliver your baby; but it is also important to remember that everything does not always go according to plan. Being open to curve-balls during childbirth is simply a precursor to a lifetime of curve-balls as a parent. Educate yourself by diving into the research, & then be sure to listen to your intuition as well.