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Childbirth: Choosing Your Care Provider

August 17, 2010
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Photo: AP

This one issue is so important. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a pregnant mom tell her story of disappointment with her care provider (OB or Midwife) late in her pregnancy. At that point she’s left to feel like she has no options. I just finished reading about another soon-to-be-mom who is going through this now. If you don’t want to end up with a story like this, you must choose a care provider carefully.

When I say carefully, I don’t mean getting a recommendation from a friend, co-worker or family member. That’s a good start, if that person had a good experience – an experience you would like to have, but please, interview them yourself. I don’t mean choosing the OB/GYN who’s been your personal Gynecologist for the last five years, just because they’ve been nice to you once a year. And I certainly don’t mean going on your health insurance company’s website and picking one because they’re covered and convenient.

You have to know, at the beginning of your pregnancy, or before, that this person is on the same page as you when it comes to birthing preferences. This is important whether you’re choosing a natural unmedicated birth or an epidural birth. There are many other interventions besides pain medication that doctors choose to use routinely that you may or may not want as part of your birth experience. Find out NOW if they are going to push interventions that are not proven to be safe or effective. (I’ll be writing more on unnecessary medical intervention in the near future. Until then, check out the resources HERE.)

So, how do you go about finding a great doctor or midwife?

I found mine through a local doula. When I was just shy of being 11 weeks pregnant with my first baby I decided I wanted a natural birth. Thankfully the advice I’m giving you now was one of the first pieces of advice given to me. I had gone to another OB practice for two appointments and wanted to make sure they were either onboard with my choices or find a provider that would be. The only thing I could think to do was to contact a local doula, who I found at dona.org.

I sent her an email and this is what I asked her: 1) Have you worked out of xxx Hospital previously? If so, are they supportive of natural childbirth? and 2) Have you worked with Dr. xxx or any of the doctors at xxx practice? If so, will she/they be supportive of a natural childbirth? (Feel free to use these questions yourself. Just replace the x’s with the actual names – ha!)

It turns out that she didn’t know much about the doctor I had referenced in my email and said the hospital would be supportive depending on my doctor and the labor and delivery nurse(s).

That wasn’t very reassuring to me and I wasn’t really set on seeing that specific doctor, so I switched providers. I chose a provider who this doula (my doula) found to be very supportive of natural childbirth. (Even as far as desiring a homebirth if it were ever possible for her.)

There are lots of places you can get good feedback on doctors in your area. Doulas are just one source of information. Check with your local La Leche League. Call labor and delivery at one or more local hospitals and ask the nurses for a recommendation. Find a Bradley Birth Instructor and email or call. Go to the ‘Finding Your Tribe’ section of Mothering.com and leave a post on the forum asking for suggestions. You’ll also find reviews of birth care providers at TheBirthSurvey.com. (If you haven’t taken The Birth Survey, will you please go do it now?)

I’m so glad I made the switch to a new OB. My husband and I both loved spending time with her at my appointments. She never rushed us and often took longer than she probably should have to chat with us (so sorry to the people who had appointments after us)! And when it came time to birth my first baby, well, things didn’t go exactly as planned (they never do). I was definitely in a situation where most OB’s would have just taken me back for a c-section (unnecessarily). The word cesarean was NEVER mentioned while I was laboring (even when my water had been broken for the dreaded 24-hours). She took her time before starting any interventions (Pitocin). She was genuinely surprised that I had eventually chosen an epidural. (I’ve really got to find my firstborn’s birth story and post that for you all.)

And she was just as wonderful with my second pregnancy. Even helping me process through the birth of my first child. Helping me to believe that I could have a natural birth this time around. And I did.

Finding a provider who is supportive of your birthing preferences is so crucial. Every pregnant woman deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Make sure that’s the way you’re going to be treated, now. Don’t wait until your half way thru your pregnancy, or beyond to make sure your provider and you are on the same page.

How did YOU find a doctor or midwife that was supportive of your desires for your birth experience?

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