Choosing Your Care Provider: After the facts…

When it comes to choosing the person who will help us usher a new human life into the world, we women have a tendency to default to the lowest common denominator:

  • Who our insurance will cover.
  • Who is closest to our home or work place.
  • Who all our girlfriends/sisters/cousins go to.
  • The first one we see with a nice website. (I kid you not.)

With a great amount of luck, you might hit on a care provider who practices in a mother-friendly and/or baby-friendly way (the two are not mutually exclusive – what is good for one will almost always be good for the other). However, not one of the above reasons is a good enough one to base a decision on. They might be a good place to start your search, but these reasons, alone, are flimsy.

Remember, there are at least nine or so months to decide who will have the honor of catching your baby – and believe me, it is an honor. Any provider who views it as less than that should not be catching babies! So, take your time. There is no rush. There is a lot more information out there than you may have previously known.

To start, you need to know, first of all, what kind of options you have. If you have visited my site more than once, you are probably aware that I am a big supporter of midwifery and home birth. I have good reason. They are perfectly viable options. (Visit my Homebirth & Midwifery page for information.) However, those might not be the right options for every birthing woman.

My main point in writing this is to encourage you to really slow down and think through all your options. Never automatically discount a particular type of provider without first learning the relevant facts.

In summary, your options for prenatal care and birth are:

1: OB/Gyn (Obstetrician/Gynecologist)
2: Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM)
3: Family Practitioner
4: Direct-entry midwife (a.k.a. Registered, Certified Professional, or Lay Midwife)

Good information on the practical aspects of choosing a care provider is abundant. In fact, Childbirth Connection has an excellent resource on the nuts and bolts of care providers. I encourage you to check out this link to see this information.

After reviewing the basic facts about different care providers, I would like to address a factor that is often overlooked in a woman’s research.

We women have the very real ability to “just know” when something is or is not “right” in many situations. Instinct. Intuition. Gut feelings. Call it what you will, but it is more than emotion, and it is one link I often see missing from the list of reasons a woman gives for choosing her particular provider. Our instincts, in most cases, will steer us correctly. However, we have also been conditioned to ignore those instincts in the face of what we may see as an authority greater than our own, only to regret it later.

In addition to questions about a care provider’s policies, procedures, and statistics regarding various interventions (cesareans, inductions, epidurals, etc…), you need to seriously consider your instinct. It may be the most important factor in your decision, especially if you feel that you have all the black-and-white facts that you need to be fully informed about a particular provider.

After reviewing any provider’s answers to your interview questions, you need to ask yourself: “How did meeting with this person make me feel, at my gut-level?”

Did you feel safe? Did you feel respected? Did you feel as though you were taken seriously? Were all your questions answered in a satisfactory way? Did you “click”?

Even if the answers to these questions are all in the affirmative, is there something else that tells you that you “just know” that this person isn’t “right” for your care? If so, move on! Ignoring that gut-level instinct has the potential to keep you from having a truly good birth experience – even if the physical outcome is “good” overall.

Being fully informed will do you no good, whatsoever, if you choose a care provider against your best instincts. Also, keep in mind that instinct alone can sometimes be misleading too. Rarely, but it does happen.

When you pair instinct with a foundation of good, accurate information, you create an empowering situation for yourself. You take one step closer to trusting yourself in the exciting process of growing and birthing a baby, and that can never be a bad thing.

To see other posts (to be updated at least weekly until complete) in the Most Important Piece series, click HERE.

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