Five Steps to Hiring the Right Birth Care ProviderJan 23, 2022
Have you hired the right care provider for your baby's birth?
If there is one thing you can do RIGHT NOW to ensure your best birth experience, it’s this: Choose a care provider who is an EXPERT in the type of birth you are planning. If you are planning a safe, skilled cesarean birth, you should hire someone who is an expert at cesarean sections. You wouldn’t hire a doctor for a C-section who said, “Well actually I’m not really comfortable with that type of birth, but I’ll let you do it if you want, I suppose…” If you’re planning a safe, natural, un-medicated birth, you should hire someone who is an EXPERT at supporting un-medicated birth. A doctor with a 30% C-section rate is not an unmedicated birth expert. Neither is a doctor who does routine episiotomies, or doesn’t understand how to catch a baby unless mom is laying on her back. A doctor who says “Well, most of my clients do end up with an epidural, but if you want to go natural you can do that, I suppose…” is NOT an expert in unmedicated birth. When you find the right care provider, they will understand your birth plan before you even show it to them, because it’s what they already do EVERY DAY.
Your care provider must be someone who listens to your voice and respects your priorities. Here are five suggestions to help you make this important decision.
1. Decide how and where you want to give birth
If you don’t know, start doing some serious research. You have lots of options: Natural or medicated? Hospital or home? Water or dry land? OB or midwife? Do you want to be actively involved in all decisions and choices or will you allow your care provider to take control? If you’ve had a previous cesarean, are you interested in a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean)? Will you have a doula? What interventions / medications / procedures will you accept or refuse? HypnoActive Birth classes will help you navigate these decisions confidently, without imposing a dogmatic bias about what type of birth is best. The best birth is the one that is safe, healthy and joyful for you and your baby.
Here is a simple meditation and journaling exercise you can practice with your partner or a friend to help you decide what you want. Sit down in a quiet space, turn off all technology and close your eyes. Have your partner read the following questions to you, giving you lots of time to think through each one. Record your thoughts in a journal.
Take a few deep breaths and begin to visualize yourself giving birth, safely and joyfully. What does that look like and feel like to you? Imagine how you would like to feel on your birthing day, emotionally and physically.
- What is the lighting like in the room?
- Is there music playing, or some other sounds in the background?
- How would you describe the atmosphere in the room? Calm? Celebratory? Social? Intimate?
- What level of routine medical intervention do you prefer?
- Who is with you?
- How involved is your partner?
- Is there another support person or doula there?
- What is the energy and personality of your ideal care provider? Are they upbeat or mellow? Calming or energizing? Quiet or assertive?
2. Determine your Birth Priorities
Now that you know what kind of birth you want, you can begin putting those preferences down on paper. Again, a comprehensive, evidence-based childbirth class will be a great resource for you.
Make sure you know what your RIGHTS are in childbirth. Most expecting parents are under the impression that there are certain "rules" and "policies" which are mandatory for them to follow. You have MUCH more control in the birth space than you think you do. Once you know what your birthing rights are, you can start narrowing down your birth priorities.
Read books, ask questions, and listen to your intuition. It’s not enough just to know your options; you also need to decide how you’re going to put those plans into action. Here are a few books that will be helpful as you make your priorities sheet
- The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin
- Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering by Dr. Sarah J. Buckley
- Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
- The Complete Idiot's Guide to Natural Childbirth by Jennifer L. West
3. Get recommendations from local Doulas
Doulas are your secret weapon when it comes to finding the right maternity care provider. An experienced doula has seen many different care providers in action, and they can tell you who’s great and who isn’t. Get ahold of local doulas and pick their brains. Most of them will be happy to talk to you and point you in the right direction on your search. Even better? Hire a doula as your own personal birth-guide.
Google "Doulas near me" and contact a few who are well-reviewed and experienced. You wouldn’t ascend Everest without a Sherpa who knows the way and has been to the summit many times: Doulas are Birth Sherpas! Experienced Doulas have worked with care providers to support a great variety of birth scenarios, and they are really good at facilitating cooperation and communication between the birther and her provider.
"Asking your husband to be your sole guide through labor is like asking him to lead the way on a climb of Mt. Everest. He may be smart and trustworthy, you may love him, but in the Himalayas you’d both be a lot better off with a Sherpa!" – Pam England
4. Interview the recommended care providers
Once you’ve got your list of recommendations, contact each care provider and set up an interview. Just to be clear: YOU are interviewing THEM. You are the CEO and your job is to hire the employee you like best. Bring your birth preferences sheet with you to the interview, and go through it point by point. If the care provider is a good fit, this process will be so smooth and easy. Your gut will tell you if it’s a good fit or a big mistake.
Throughout the interview, you should feel listened to, understood and supported. If you feel like you have to defend or “fight for” your choices during the interview, can you imagine how you’ll feel on your birthing day? You, as CEO of this birth, have the right to find an employee who will provide you with the level of service and performance you require. Keep interviewing until you find that employee.
5. Know that you can switch care providers at any time, even late in your pregnancy
You can change your mind and “fire” your care provider if you feel you need to. The latest I’ve ever heard of a mom firing her doctor was (believe it or not) at SIX CENTIMETERS DILATION. She was tired of how she was being treated during labor, so she signed herself out of the hospital, contacted a local midwife, drove to a birth center, and had a victorious VBAC in the water, no tearing, not trauma, no complications. AND her baby weighed 11 and a half pounds…
It’s best to choose your ideal care provider much earlier than that, of course. It’s incredibly beneficial for an expecting mom to have a relationship of trust with her doctor or midwife that she can call upon whenever she needs support or reassurance. So don’t put this off. Do your childbirth classes, read your books, ask your questions, hire your doula, get some recommendations, and start your search for the best provider for your birth journey.
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