Today’s the day of your first prenatal checkup, a thrilling moment where you meet the person who will help bring your bundle of joy into your arms. Creating your best care provider relationship starts today, so why not start off on the best foot possible.
Your birth plan is a player in this relationship, too. While you research and write about your birth preferences, you’ll want to confer with your care provider about
- Their philosophy of birth, and does it match yours
- Where they practice (if that’s not already obvious)
- What options you have in the hospital or birthing center they work in
- What happens if your health status/pregnancy risk changes
If your first meeting with your care provider is before you’re pregnant or at the very early part of pregnancy, you have time to develop the relationship—or to realize that you + provider = blah.
What’s one of the best ways to find a care provider that matches you? Ask the folks who know you well—family, friends, work colleagues, church or bowling team members—who they recommend.
Or ask local doulas, childbirth educators, and mommy support groups who they think tops the list of local care providers.
Care Provider Choices
Which care provider choices do you have in your locale? Most areas offer the full range of practitioners, but your options could differ in a rural area. The main three providers for pregnancy and birth are:
OB-GYN A medical doctor who specializes in women, pregnancy, and birth. They’re well informed about the latest findings in pregnancy and birth. Most work in hospitals, and many women choose an OB-GYN because of the doctor’s hospital connection and familiarity with hospital procedures.
Because these doctors are hospital-focused, their perception of birth often—but not always—sees birth as a medical rather than a natural event.
That approach could also mean more interventions during labor and birth. Also, many OB-GYNs work in group practices, so the doctor attending your birth may not be the one you’ve seen for your prenatals.
For some women, the security of having the latest medical technology around them allows them to fully relax. Their birth plans don’t usually focus on having a natural birth.
Instead, their idea of heaven is pain medication, Cesarean section, and having baby snuggled in the nursery while mom gets much-needed sleep.
General Practitioner Doctor or Family Practice Doctor The kind of doctor we all know: the one that gave you your first shots as a kid or healed your sister’s hives after she ate shellfish. Your GP is well trained in general medicine, of which pregnancy, labor, and delivery is a part.
Some women love the intimacy of having their familiar family doctor at their birth. Trusting that their GP already knows them makes them relax more and roll with contractions easier.
These women’s birth plans can range from the all-out natural to the just-get-it-out technology lover.
But, if you have complicated health problems, not all GPs can handle them like an OB-GYN could.
Midwives – come in a variety of flavors:
- Certified nurse-midwives are nurses who have additional training to become a midwife. Nurse-midwives always work under an OB-GYN or a general practitioner doctor, and often, but not exclusively, work in hospitals or birthing centers.
- Direct-entry midwives or Certified Professional midwives are well-trained in all things pregnancy, birth, and postpartum related, but don’t hold a nursing degree.
Women who choose to have a midwife at their birth are usually more focused on doing it naturally.
Whether the birth happens at home, in the birthing center or in the hospital, their birth plans often focus on being able to move and eat during labor, having few or no interventions, putting baby immediately on their chest at birth (skin-to-skin), and breastfeeding.
Which type of practitioner feels closest to your vision?
Which one do you think will give you the care and answers you need?
It’s a highly individual choice, and only you can decide.
Talk Is Cheap, So Go For It
Communication is key to feeling safe and comfortable with your care provider. In fact, it can determine the openness with which you ask questions.
Studies show that if you feel welcome and listened to, your need for extra postpartum care often decreases.
Sometimes we don’t ask questions for fear of sounding stupid, and that’s often true during pregnancy
Crazy, right? But you’re not alone!
Even in the 21stcentury, pregnancy is an almost mystical time because science has a list of things it still doesn’t understand about the mom-baby connection during pregnancy and labor.
Creating your best care provider relationship goes both ways.
Your doctor, midwife, or nurse-midwife’s ability to speak honestly and openly with you means you get the most of their expertise, insights, and latest findings.
Trusting your care provider is key to having a relaxed, open conversation with them, especially if you need to make diet, lifestyle, or behavioral changes.
With a trusting relationship, you’re also more likely to roll with their suggestions and successfully make changes.
Talk The Care Provider Talk
Whether you’re in an area and have insurance that gives you care provider choices, or are in a location or have insurance that limits them, establishing a good relationship makes you and your provider happier.
A little bit of preparation goes a long way, so once you’ve chosen a doctor or midwife:
Know what your birth goals are.
Let’s say you have to take the care provider assigned to you, but they’re addicted to technology and you want to go all natural. Where is your meeting ground—what can you compromise on?
Ask for help.
Everyone likes to feel needed, and asking your care provider for their expert opinion goes miles in making a connection. If you’re each coming from opposite approaches to childbirth, asking questions is the bridge that can highlight where you both meet, and helps open up further conversations.
Know what you want to know. Bring in a list of questions or concerns and show it to your care provider (maybe give them a copy) so they allot time for that conversation. Use collaborative language—saying “we ” instead of “you” or “I” instills a sense of teamwork. Use questions to bridge sticky points. “How can we___?” encourages your care provider to work with you, even if it goes against their norm.
When you write down your care provider’s answers, it shows them that you value their years in medical school. Nothing makes somebody warm up and step outside their comfort zone than knowing the person they’re talking to trusts and respects them. And, you’ll be able to ask clarifying questions if you don’t understand what you’re writing.
- Decision Checklist.
Use this great B.R.A.I.N checklist to help make decisions with your care provider
- Benefits – What are the benefits of this procedure or option?
- Risks – What are the risks of this procedure or option?
- Alternatives – Are there alternatives to the treatment suggested?
- Intuition – What does my gut tell me is right for me?
- Nothing – What happens if we do nothing?
Answers to these questions could form the final birth plan that’s listed on your hospital bag checklist.
Once you know who you’re working with, learn to voice your birth preferences and questions so you feel empowered, but are using the medical expert across from you in a way that says, “We’re a team working together.”
After all, you both want the same thing: a happy, healthy you with your healthy baby in your arms.
To learn more about birth choices, download our free Birth Plan eBook now. After three years of research, collaboration with more than 100 childbirth experts and resource centers from Healthy Child Healthy World to the American Association of Neonatal Nurses, the Best Ever Baby Birth Plan Guide is available for a free download.
This new resource for pregnant families is a compilation of top tips and advice from more than 20 nationally-recognized experts in the field including renowned pediatrician, Dr. Alan Greene and GraceFull Birthing founder, midwife Elizabeth Bachner. These trusted experts offer thoughtful guidance for whatever type of birthing experience parents want, in whichever setting they choose.
Published: May 5, 2018 | By SP Turgon, Certified Labor Doula | Reviewed by: The Best Ever Baby Expert Team | Last reviewed: May, 2018