My great friends at OPET Childbirth Services have written this post on assembling your birth team. Have you thought about who will attend your birth?  Will you have a midwife or an OB/GYN?  How do you feel about working with a doula? Everything you need to know is here below.  Have more questions? Drop them a line at OPET – they would be more than happy to help – go here.
Having a positive birth experience can help you begin your transition into parenthood with confidence. You can begin parenting knowing that you care in control and capable of great things.
So, how do you ensure that you have a positive birth experience?
Start by building a birth team of people you know and trust to guide and support you. Building your ideal birth team can give you a better chance at having a positive birth. Think about it:
Choosing to surround yourself with positive influences is more likely to lead to a positive outcome.
It is also important to make sure that your birth team understands, respects, and cares about you. Take your time to carefully select whom you allow in to this very important group. Here is a list to get you started:
Partner/Family Member/Friend (Personal Support)
This is someone who knows what calms you down and what excites you. They know your taste in music and you probably have some inside jokes. You are excited to share this experience with them! They are helping you prepare for the birth and new baby and are emotionally invested in your birth. Your experience (and the new baby) will have an impact on their lives, too.
You have likely known them for years (and possibly your whole life). They won’t be afraid when your birth gets intense and you won’t be embarrassed for them to be there if it gets messy. They know your hopes and plans for this birth, and they know what you absolutely do not want to happen. Your Personal Support Person is the only the person that can speak for you if you cannot speak for yourself. Make sure they are someone that you trust to say the things that you would say in that event.
People to consider to be your Personal Support Person: Your partner, your best friend, your mother, your sister, or any other family member that you feel comfortable with.
People not to consider to be your Personal Support Person: Anybody that you are even slightly uncomfortable with. This could include: Your mother-in-law, casual acquaintances, friends you haven’t seen in years, family that you are not close with, or anyone that might make your birth unnecessarily dramatic. It is especially important to not invite a person that may trigger any memories of past trauma to your birth. Many people may ask to be (or assume that they will be) invited to your birth. This is not the time to be a people pleaser! Have the courage and confidence to say no.
Any hurt feelings will be water under the bridge once they meet the new baby!
Birth Doula (Professional Support)
Birth doulas know birth intimately. They are trained to know what birth looks, sounds and feels like. Their experience helps them support you calmly, which is likely to help you remain calm as well. They are trained in different comfort measures to help ease the pain of contractions and in relaxation techniques to keep you focused. She knows many different ways to make birth as comfortable as possible, and every doula has their own unique tools and techniques to help you have the birth you want. They support you and your Personal Support Person continuously throughout labour and birth (and afterwards), never leaving your side.
Part of a birth doula’s job is to be knowledgeable of all aspects of birth and to share that information with you. This information equips you with the confidence to advocate for yourself before, during, and after you give birth. A birth doula also gives you information about any unexpected decisions that might have to be made during birth, helping you weigh the risks and benefits so that you can make an informed decision. Having a birth doula by your side is crucial in taking control of your birth.
Tips for Hiring a Doula:
Hire a doula that: You feel comfortable with, has formal training, respects your birth plan, supports your Personal Support Person, and has a back up. (At OPET – birth doulas fit all of these criteria!)
Do not hire a doula that: You don’t feel comfortable with, doesn’t have training, only supports certain kinds of birth, isn’t concerned with your Personal Support Person’s needs, and doesn’t have a back-up.
Care Provider – Midwife/OB-GYN/Family Doctor
When choosing a care provider, you have three choices:
Midwives, Obstetrician/Gynecologist (OB-GYN), or Family Doctor.
Midwives: If you have a low risk pregnancy, you can choose to be cared for by a team of midwives. Midwives are experts in physiological birth and can deliver babies at home, in a hospital, or at a birth centre. They provide continuous medical care throughout your labour and delivery. Midwives believe in informed choice and provide you with the information that you need to confidently make decisions before, during, and after your birth. They are trained to recognize birth complications and will transfer your care to an OB-GYN should complications arise. You will transfer back into their care for the six weeks after the birth for postpartum care, and your baby will be in the care of the midwives as well, as long as there are no complications. Midwives are also on call for you during your pregnancy. If you have a concern or you are not sure if what you’re experiencing is normal, you can call them and they will help you. In most cases, the team of midwives that care for you in pregnancy are also the midwives that care for you in birth. You can call a midwives clinic at anytime during your pregnancy and get on a waitlist, but we recommend calling as soon as you know you’re pregnant to help ensure that you will be able to receive care from a midwife throughout your whole pregnancy.
OB-GYNs are medical doctors. They deliver births at hospitals and are most skilled at assisting high risk labour and birth, or births with unsual circumstances. They have skills, knowledge, and training in high-risk pregnancy, medical interventions and cesarean sections, should they be necessary. Carefully select the OB-GYN that you want to care for you during pregnancy, but be aware that they might not be the one that end up at your birth. Instead of focusing on a specific OB-GYN for your birth, look at the hospital that you choose to give birth at as whole. Do some research, read reviews, and ask around to find out about the kind of care that other mothers have received from OB-GYNs at that particular hospital. Find out about the nursing staff, too, since they will be seeing you a lot during your birth! Book a hospital tour, and trust your instinct when choosing which hospital to give birth at.
Family doctors will care for women throughout their pregnancy, and some work in a practice along with other doctors who deliver babies at hospitals.
You may or may not meet the other doctors who are part of the practice during your prenatal checkups.
This is a good option for women with low risk pregnancies who are comfortable with their regular doctor.
However, as with OB-GYN’s, the family doctor may not be the one to deliver your baby.
Choose a care provider that: Respects your choices, is excited for your birth, gives you all the information that you need, has time for you, respects your partner and/or Personal Support Person, is comfortable with you having a doula, is easy to get a hold of and/or make appointments with, asks for your consent before performing procedures and interventions, and ultimately, is one that you are comfortable with.
Do not choose a care provider that: Is dismissive of your choices, doesn’t have time to answer questions during appointments, tries to influence you to have the birth that they want, doesn’t respect your partner or Personal Support Person, doesn’t want you to have a doula, doesn’t ask for your consent before performing procedures or interventions, doesn’t give you information, or that is one you are uncomfortable with.
If you are unhappy with your care provider, you can find a different care provider at any time during your pregnancy.
The most important thing to remember when choosing your birth team is to trust your instincts. If you are unsure of someone and if they should be present at your birth, it may be unwise to invite them to be on your team. You need to be able to be comfortable and confident with your birth team in order to have a positive birth experience.
Would you like to learn more about how a birth doula can help be a part of your team?
We would love to talk to you. Please email us at info@opetchildbirthservices and we can schedule a free consultation.
Michelle Kapler
Michelle Kapler
When I’m not working, you can find me knitting socks, writing for my blog, eating oysters that my husband has lovingly shucked, creating and co-creating meals for loved ones or hanging out with my Herbal Medicine Textbooks and and a very specifically pulled espresso.
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