Individual fit: Who and where you choose during pregnancy and childbirth matter.
Picture this: An expectant mother is preparing for the birth of her baby. She chooses the care provider her friend, co-worker or family member recommended, she is reading the most popular books on pregnancy and birth (she doesn’t know there are any others to choose from – everyone is reading these), she cannot help herself as she watches hour upon hour of those baby and birth shows on t.v., people tell her their birth stories and to just get the epidural (after watching those birth shows and hearing THOSE stories she is beginning to think it might just be a good idea). Right now, she is pretty sure she doesn’t want to be induced (she heard it hurts more, but knowing when the baby will come is appealing) or have a cesarean but other than that she is leaving it up to her care provider.
Now she starts her childbirth class. This class is based on normal birth and evidence-based practices. Hm those books she was given are SO different than what the instructor says during class. The instructor doesn’t even recommend those books but a host of other books and websites. She begins to wonder what her care provider really thinks and believes about birth. Also, what birth philosophy and practices her chosen birth location has.
I have written a list on choosing a care provider and birth location that is right for you. This is too important to make decisions without extra thoughtfulness and investigation. The key to this information is remembering you are the one purchasing a service. Essentially you are hiring a catcher with medical expertise and renting a room to birth your baby (if you are going to the hospital or birth center).
Choosing the place of birth for your baby – It is incredibly important that you understand where you fit best prior to choosing where to birth your baby. Take hospital and/or birth center tour, call and talk to L&D floor, get facts on home birth by talking to home birth midwives, other moms who have had home births, online and in books.
- Does the location offer what is most important to you (tubs, birth balls, wearing own clothing, intermittent monitoring, etc.)?
- What are standard protocols that are followed?
- Does location routinely use methods that turn a low risk mom and baby into high risk patients?
- Are waterbirths available?
- Are birthing stools or non-reclined pushing and delivery positions encouraged?
- What is the no/low intervention rate?
- What is the epidural rate?
- What is the cesarean rate? Does the hospital support VBAC’s?
- Are mom and baby friendly practices used? (no routine interventions, no separation of mom and baby, breastfeeding is the norm, movement in labor is utilized, etc.)
Points to Ponder afterward –
- Will I be able to have the type of birth I truly desire?
- What location will I ultimately feel most comfortable in?
- What location is ultimately safest for my specific needs (I am currently low-risk or high risk)?
- Is insurance or lack of it the reason I am choosing the location?
- Do I have realistic expectations for the location?
- Am I willing to take responsibility for my birth in the location?
- Is staff open to working with a doula?
- Is staff willing to work with natural childbirth practices?
- Are there any compelling reasons to choose one location over another?
Choosing your care provider – Use this as a template for the interview process or to be certain you are of the same philosophy and belief system.
- What is his/her birth philosophy?
- What is philosophy of pregnancy?
- Has provider seen normal labor and birth? How often?
- What percentage of patients have medicalized births?
- How is the “due date” approached? When is “overdue”?
- Will you answer questions over the phone?
- How much time will you spend with me during each appointment?
- What if I hire a doula? Are there restrictions on the doula I may hire? If yes, why?
- Do I need a childbirth class? Breastfeeding class?
o Are there restrictions on the type of childbirth or breastfeeding class? If so, what and why?
- What routine tests are utilized during pregnancy? What if I decline these tests?
- What are routine intervention rates? (IV, AROM, continuous monitoring, etc.) Cesarean rate? VBAC rate?
- Induction rate? What induction methods are used?
- Is natural, normal labor and birth supported?
- What positions is care provider comfortable catching in? Birth stool? Hand/Knees? Squatting? Standing?
- If I choose an epidural, when can I get it or when is it too late?
- How often is episiotomy used?
- When would forceps/vacuum be used? Which method is CP comfortable with?
- What about a birth plan? Will desires be put into my file at the hospital so the nurse and/or back-up will know what has been agreed to?
- Are there any protocols that are non-negotiable?
- What if I choose to decline something after careful consideration?
- Is an on call rotation utilized or does CP attend all own patients? If there are partners or an on call rotation, do EACH of the others share in the same birth philosophy and approach to birth?
Points to ponder afterward–
- Did you feel immediately comfortable at the interview?
- Were or are questions specifically answered or is the answer “only when necessary” without additional information unless pressed?
- Was or is care provider willing to answer questions in detail without being annoyed?
- If already with a CP, do you feel comfortable and heard at each appointment?
- Is choosing your care provider based on your insurance or lack of insurance?
- What are you willing to do in order to have the birth you really desire? Birth location?
- How much responsibility are you willing to take for the health care decisions for you and your baby?