Finding the Right Doctor for Your Prenatal Care and Delivery
This is your body and your baby. Having a baby is a really personal and very emotional experience. You don’t just want anybody to be in the driver’s seat for this experience.
When you are pregnant, you want to put the health and well-being of you and your unborn infant in the very best of hands.
However, the decision you make in the doctor or other professional that will care for you through your pregnancy, will usually also determine how your delivery will go.
Most women simply continue with their OB/GYN (obstetrician gynecologist) when they find out that they are pregnant, not realizing that this means that they have a hospital delivery in their future, and not necessarily with the doctor treating them at each appointment.
If this is what you imagine for your delivery, then great! But what if it’s not?
Until you know all of the facts, and what all of your different options may be for prenatal care and delivery, you may want to consider doing your research and keeping your options for a doctor open.
What do you think is the most common place to give birth?
These are medical doctors that received a medical degree along with a specialty in women's health, pregnancy, labor, delivery, and gynecological issues.
They are trained to view pregnancy as a medical condition, and have a medical solution for everything from "infertility" to a wrapped umbilical cord, to help you through the entire process from conception to holding your new baby in your arms.
These professionals typically deliver babies in hospitals and have very clearly defined methods, using modern day medicine and technology, for handling any situation.
These individuals are trained health professionals in the specific areas of maternity care, labor, delivery, and postpartum care.
There are many types of midwives. Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) are registered nurses with graduate education in midwifery. Certified Midwives (CMs) have a Bachelor’s degree with graduate education in midwifery.
Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) having training in midwifery and had to pass a certification test. They had a little medical training, but not much.
Midwives offer labor and delivery services in your home, in birthing centers, and in hospitals, although CPMs can only practice in your home and may not prescribe or administer medications.
They have been trained to view pregnancy as a human condition. They believe that your body can conceive naturally, that it knows how to function during pregnancy and care for a developing infant, and that it can even labor and deliver all on its own without intervention.
Midwives typically do not use medicine if not necessary, will try to avoid any unneeded interventions, and are simply there to guide and support you through the process of pregnancy, labor, and delivery naturally.
At one point in time, giving birth in a hospital meant being shuffled from room to room several times through the process for situations such as checking in, laboring, delivering, and even postpartum care. In some hospitals, this is still the case.
However, hospitals are evolving and updating their facilities to better care for and comfort the women in their care. In some hospitals there are only a couple of rooms, and many others, just one for the whole process.
Where hospitals used to immediately whisk the new baby away from its mom to care for it in a separate nursery, many hospitals now care for infants right in the same room with the mother, also allowing the babies to stay there close to mom in a crib.
Hospitals are also now providing private bathrooms, areas for family to stay and sleep in the room with the mother, and many even provide an option of using a midwife when you are admitted.
However many things have not changed in hospitals. A mother admitted to the hospital for delivery is still placed on her back in a hospital bed under bright florescent lighting, she is given an IV in her arm, and she spends the next day or so laying on her back while laboring.
If anything goes wrong, or doesn't go as the doctor had planned, any use of medicines and technologies comes into play such as pitocin for inducing labor, tocolytics to slow down or stop labor, an epidural to relieve the mother's pain and calm her down, an episiotomy, forceps, or a vacuum to aide in delivery, a C-section to rescue a baby or mother in distress, etc.
A birthing center is essentially a cross between a hospital and your home. It is a professional health facility run by midwives providing a safe place for pregnant women to come for regular prenatal visits and when it comes time to deliver.
This building is usually laid out like a hospital with a front desk and individual rooms for each woman, with the atmosphere of a personal home with more muted colors, rooms that look like your bedroom, and softer lighting.
Due to being run by midwives, the goal of any birthing center is to make women and their families comfortable, and to give each woman the birthing experience she desires. However, many times this leans towards a more natural birth without medications, a great deal of fetal monitoring, and ultrasounds.
They tend to offer many ways to help a natural birth along including birthing balls, bath tubs for warm baths, birthing pools for water births, and the option to help birth along with walking or other more personal ways between husbands and their wives.
They do however have the option of medications and other medical interventions if desired. And if there is an emergency that cannot be fixed by a midwife, they usually work closely with a doctor and a hospital nearby where you can be taken.
This is just about the most personal and intimate way to give birth, if you are comfortable giving birth in your own home.
For this option, much of labor is done before the midwife even arrives, giving you the ability to handle contractions and ways for helping along labor to you. However, your midwife can be reached over the phone for support and encouragement.
You can choose the place, the position, and the way you would like to labor on your own. Many couples choose to light candles and play soft music. Most home births do not include medicines or IVs, much fetal monitoring, or any ultrasounds on the day of delivery.
Midwives will normally bring handheld devices to monitor the baby's heart beat intermittently though and make sure everything is on track. If an umbilical cord gets wrapped or the baby is facing the wrong direction, a midwife can simply fix it on the spot.
However, if there's an emergency she cannot handle, she usually has a relationship with a local doctor and hospital where the mother and baby can be taken.
The debate between hospital and home had been a long one. Do you lean towards the safety and security of trained doctors and modern medicine, or for the personal experience of natural childbirth in the privacy of your home? How this question is answered will be different for everyone.
And it doesn't even have to be either or with all of the options available to women now.
At any given moment in history any one of these was your only option, but there is no reason now that you should be forced into any choice you're not completely comfortable with.
Before you make a decision though, consider the pros and cons of each one. Although you can change your mind at any time throughout your pregnancy, you'll want to have the right doctor by your side through the process.
Which way do you think you're leaning?
© 2014 Victoria Van Ness