As contractions begin and you grab your hospital bag and birth plan, you probably imagine your familiar midwife or doctor walking into your labor room, their presence assuring you that you’re going to be fine. But what if that’s not who walks through the door? Knowing which midwife or doctor will be at your birth—or knowing that you’ll be working with any on-shift care provider—means one less factor to distract you from bringing baby into the world.
Group medical practices in hospitals guarantee that a vetted professional is on staff when you go to the hospital with steady contractions. Backups come in if the primary care provider is ill, busy, or out of town.
If your care provider is part of a group practice you may or may not meet the others in a hospital medical practice. You can always ask to meet them before you write your birth plan, whether that’s possible or not. Other group practices make sure that you meet each care provider.
Some group practices will let you arrange for a particular practitioner to attend your birth if you and the practitioner have a close bond. In this case, be sure to write this choice into your final birth plan and include that plan on your hospital bag checklist.
Another factor that can affect your decision to go with a particular medical group is gender. Do you care if all the practitioners in a group practice are women? Do you prefer the perspective that comes from groups composed of male and female practitioners?
If your doctor’s group contains both women and men, yet you really feel you want the woman doctor, be sure to mention that in your prenatal visits. It’s part of planning your birth. Most groups are based on the agreement that the on-staff practitioner is the one you get to the hospital. But it’s worth asking for what you want ahead of time, just in case they’ll accommodate you.
Interestingly, one study found that births attended by physicians outside normal hours resulted in lower C-section rates and less severity of perineal tears. And, the Apgar scores of those babies were comparable to babies born during “business hours.”
Unlike hospital groups, midwifery practices are usually small, with one or two others who may come to your birth. Midwives usually make it part of their prenatal care to introduce you to their backup(s). This factor is more important to some women than others.
What’s Your Familiarity Need?
Ultimately, the decision lies in your need for familiarity.
If simply being in the hospital is all the reassurance you need and you can accept any qualified practitioner, a hospital obstetric group practice could be ideal for you.
On the other hand, if you need to know who will be at your birth and will relax best with care providers you know, you’ll want to find a practice that prioritizes a single patient-doctor relationship.
Your insurance or the availability of choice in your area may make the decision for you. But even if you have one choice as you plan your birth, discussing your concerns with your midwife or doctor about who will be at your birth is always an important part of prenatal conversations.
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: December 26, 2017 | By SP Turgon, Certified Labor Doula | Reviewed by: The Best Ever Baby Expert Team | Last reviewed: December, 2017