Pregnancy and birth are full of choices to make from what color to paint the baby’s room, to baby names, to where give birth, to what kind of car seat to buy. Here are a few simple tips to help demystify the process of choosing a care provider for your birth.
1) They deliver in a location that feels right.
Oxytocin, the hormone that brings labor contractions thrives in an environment where one feels safe and supported. When a birthing parent feels stressed, combative, or unsafe, it becomes much harder for hormones, contractions, and pain-dulling endorphins to flow.
Sometimes you may feel a connection with a provider but not feel that the place where they catch babies is ideal for you. If you want an epidural to be available during labor, a birth center is probably not a good fit no matter how much you liked the midwife who gave you a tour. If you’re hoping for an unmedicated birth, the hospital with the highest cesarean rate in town is probably not ideal for you, even if the doctor who delivers there has known your family for years. There are many options available for birthing families…keep searching until you find the provider and location that feels conducive to the flow of oxytocin.
2) Your provider specializes in the kind of birth you are hoping to have.
It is unrealistic to expect your provider to step outside of their comfort zone for your birth. That doesn’t mean that you can’t negotiate and create a dialogue in the moment, of course, but don’t expect a provider who always induces labor at 39 weeks to be on board with you carrying your baby to 42 weeks.
Find out what a birth typically looks like for their clients. Do people often have an unmedicated birth with that practice, or do most deliver with epidural medication? Do they normally go into labor spontaneously or get induced? Do they normally move around during labor or stay in bed? What is the percentage of vaginal deliveries vs. cesarean births that they attend? If your provider is giving you strong signals that birth almost always plays out the same way under their care, your next task is to figure out if that’s the kind of birth you want.
3) You feel free to ask questions.
Throughout the course of your pregnancy you are building a relationship of trust with the person you’ve hired to catch your baby. There’s no question that’s silly or shouldn’t be asked until later. You wouldn’t want to wait until the wedding night (or a few weeks before) to find out that a romantic partner has nothing in common with you. The same goes for a doctor or midwife. A provider who welcomes your questions and your partner’s questions as they arise is a good fit for a birthing family.
4) You have chosen them because it feels right for YOU.
A provider should be someone who you feel will support you through your birth experience. They should not be a person you don’t really connect with but feel obligated to continue care with because they delivered your last baby, or because they’ve been your provider for many years, or because you don’t want to hurt their feelings. If you are choosing a provider to make someone else happy, ask yourself if that tradeoff is really serving you. It may even be an opportunity to take stock of other people-pleasing relationships in your life and change course.
Your choice of doctor or midwife is one of the most important decisions you will make for your birth. They will be by your side during one of the most memorable moments in your life. May compassion, self-love, and your budding parental instincts be your guiding force as you choose the best provider for you!
Nikki Shaheed CCE(BFW) CD(DONA)