The following post was written by one of our monthly columnists: Christi Bennett. Christi offers a wealth of good ideas and practical tips on a wide variety of subjects. I'm thrilled to have her a part of our creative team!
You’re going to have a baby! Congratulations!
There’s a lot of fun that comes with this season:
- Picking out baby clothes
- Designing a nursery
- Feeling baby kicks
But one thing you may not think belongs on the “fun” list is the actual process of getting the baby out of your womb and into the world.
While perhaps not “fun,” having a baby is precious, and it’s an experience you remember just as much as that day you walked down the aisle.
For moms who have had a disappointing delivery in the past: As you consider your coming birth, you may find you need continued healing from your prior birth(s). This article may be helpful for you.
Because it’s a day you will remember forever, consider planning your birth with the same care you would plan your wedding day.
Put a lot of thought into your decisions about your birth and make sure you’re happy with it and it suits you!
A big part of making your birth a positive one is deciding on the right birth provider for you.
Choosing a birth provider is not like picking your favors and chair covers, people.
It’s more like choosing your wedding coordinator, venue, and bridal party.
We’ll look at wedding coordinator options now, and venues and attendants in Part 2.
Cast a Vision
Do you want a casual summer backyard picnic? Formal winter ball?
When planning a wedding, you need to cast a vision before you can decide on centerpieces and invitations!
Likewise, it’s silly to think you can make other decisions about your birth before you’ve done your research and thought about what you want in a birth.
But so often that is what we do!
By default (at least it was for my first birth experience), we think: first step: find a provider. But how can you choose the right provider if you don’t know what you are looking for in your birth experience?
Dream a little with me now. Besides a healthy mom & baby, what are your main objectives?
- Feeling no pain?
- Avoiding major surgery (c-section) if at all possible?
- A water birth at home?
- Being involved in the decision-making during labor & delivery?
There’s not a wrong answer here! Also, it’s never too early to start thinking about how you’d want decisions to be made during delivery:
- Under what circumstances would you want/be ok with a c-section? Epidural? Episiotomy? Other? Why?
- How many weeks would you want to let your pregnancy go before being induced? Why?
- Do you want an epidural, other pain relief options, or a completely natural birth? Why?
- Do you want to be a big part of the decision-making process or would you rather just rely on your provider’s expertise? Why?
If you don’t know the answers to these types of questions, that’s ok!
It’s a good idea to take some time to research these kinds of things before you settle in on a provider. Knowing where you are at with your birth preferences can help you in making that decision!
The Wedding Coordinator
Now that you’ve decided on that super-casual beach wedding, yo
You also know that those elaborate silver invitations will not set the right tone, and princess ball gowns would seriously
So now you can get down to the nitty-gritty: choosing your
wedding coordinator er, birth provider can make all the difference!
Be sure you decide on someone (or a group) who is on board with the vision you’ve cast and won’t try to turn your beach party into a black tie affair. Let’s look at two of the most popular options: Obstetrician/Gynecologist vs. Midwife.
For moms who have had a previous c-section: Deciding on a repeat c-section (RCS) vs. vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) is crucial as you choose your provider. Many providers will opt for a RCS because of the potential risks of a VBAC.
However, if you so desire one, be encouraged that the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends VBACs as a perfectly safe and reasonable option in most cases. This list is a helpful resource in finding a VBAC-supportive provider.
If you opt for a RCS, you may want to research gentle c-sections for some ideas on how to make the operation more like a natural birth experience for both mom and baby.
- Typically takes a more medical approach towards patient care
- More qualified when it comes to complications and high-risk births
- Typically delivers at the hospital
- Periodically checks in during labor and is present for delivery
- Facilitates medicated and unmedicated vaginal births, but also has higher c-section rates
- More likely to intervene (fetal monitoring, episiotomy, forceps, etc)—partially because they have the training to do so
- Typically takes a more holistic approach to their patients’ care
- Not qualified to perform certain interventions (e.g. if a cesarean is necessary, you would be turned over to the doctor on-call)
- Can deliver at home, hospital, or birth center (depending on the midwife and circumstances)
- Usually present for most or all of the labor and delivery
- More likely to encourage vaginal birth and unmedicated labors
- Less likely to intervene (fetal monitoring, episiotomy, epidural, etc) during labor
Both OB/GYN doctors and midwives are covered by most insurance providers. They stand prepared for emergencies and have a plan for what to do in these situations.
Also, research has shown shown equally good fetal and maternal outcomes when comparing OB/GYN and midwife births.
The Final Decision
Ladies, there’s no need to rush your decision about your birth provider. It’s better to wait a few weeks and feel confident in your decision than to hurry to choose someone.
Along those lines, it’s never too far along in a pregnancy to change providers if you no longer feel comfortable with yours. Even if you’re 35 weeks along, if she’s not on board for volleyball and hot dogs at your beach party wedding, she may not be right for you.
Here are some good rules of thumb:
Interview & Compare
Take the time you need to interview a few different providers, if you’d like. Come in knowing what you’re looking for and see if the provider you are interviewing is on board. Write down what they say somewhere—such as this journal.
Numbers Can Be Really Helpful
For example: Ask what the provider’s c-section rate is (national average is 32.8%). If desired, find the provider with the lowest one (World Health Organization considers the ideal c-section rate to be between 10-15%).
See How Your Provider Answers Your Questions
Ask some questions that are important to you. If they don’t give you a direct answer to an essential question, they say “let’s cross that bridge when we get to it,” or you just don’t feel taken seriously, it may be a good time to move on.
The questions you ask are totally up to you! Maybe you have lots of questions, or maybe you don’t have many questions because you’d rather minimize decision-making and trust that the expert knows best.
Some example questions you might ask to see if they have the same birth philosophy as you:
- At how many weeks would you recommend inducing labor?
- Can you tell me more about your decision-making process when things come up during labor?
- What interventions do you routinely use?
In the end, see who you “jive” with most—not only on a personality level, but also on a birth philosophy level.
Whatever you decide, make sure you feel comfortable with your provider, listened to, and confident he/she will be on the same page with you about what decisions should be made when.
Stay tuned: Next week we’ll look at wedding venues and bridal party options!
Remember: Weddings don’t always go as planned! I’ve witnessed all of the following:
- The florist never showed up, and the bride’s mom had to get whatever was on hand at a nearby flower shop.
- The DJ had an emergency, and the replacement DJ didn’t have the song list.
- The caterer had the wrong date and the bride’s family went to order food for 150 on the spot.
I’m sure you have stories of your own!
Births don’t always go as planned, either. Choosing the perfect provider does not necessarily mean you will have the “perfect” birth.
That’s why making a birth plan and choosing the right provider is important! When you are having your baby, you will want to know that the person you’ve chosen to call the shots is making the same decisions you would if things don’t go according to plan.
And remember, labor and delivery are just the beginning of a whole new adventure. As with marriage, you’ll be adding another person to your family to have and to hold, to love and to cherish, till death do you part.
A Birth Provider Checklist
I realize there’s a lot of information in this article, so I have created a free checklist to print and take with you as move ahead with this life-changing event!
Simply fill out the form below and you’ll receive the checklist emailed to you, along with a complementary subscription to The Incredibles, the weekly newsletter from Incredible Infant!
What About You?
What are you looking for in your birth?
Have you chosen a provider? What type? Or are you still deciding?
We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments!
Meet Christi Bennett
In addition to being a wife, stay-at-home mom, and monthly columnist here at Incredible Infant, Christi does freelance graphic design work, and manages her Etsy shop. She also enjoys photography, fine art, spending time with family and friends, being organized, chocolate, reading, and being outdoors.