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While expecting my first child, I remember feeling incredibly guilty even thinking about changing providers from the gynecologist I had seen for several years to a midwife. It felt like cheating. Like I was being ungrateful. Were we breaking up? Did she deserve this treatment from me?
Here’s the crazy thing. It was my gynecologist who suggested that I meet the midwives. In fact, while I was telling her a few things that I was hoping to experience in my upcoming labor she shared with me that she too had wanted those things in her own birth and she had been cared for by midwives herself!
Once I got over myself and realized that the birth I was seeking was much more in line with a midwifery model of care, I could relax and make the decision with confidence and no hard feelings. But it was a difficult decision. And, it should be.
Making the decision of who will be your primary care provider during pregnancy and birth is important. In fact, it may be the #1 decision you’ll make in determining how the course of events will play out in your journey through pregnancy and birth.
I was fortunate that in the practice I was working with had both OB/GYNs as well as midwives. My transition in care was seamless and relatively easy after I came to terms with the idea and met the midwifery team. But, even if you are faced with a similar decision that may cause a more dramatic upheaval and move to a completely different practice, I’ll be bold and say that it will be worth it.
What I am NOT saying is that midwives are the best choice for everyone. They are definitely not. But for the couple that is interested in achieving a natural birth with minimal medical intervention, midwives are, in general, a very good choice. Why? The reason is that the midwifery model views birth as a normal life process, teaches that it is the mother giving birth while the provider serves as support, and provides individualized care individualized to her patient.
For some couples, the reassurance that an OB/GYN brings in terms of their medical training and surgical skills makes them the logical and best choice, but for others, they may choose a family practice physician that is able to care for the entire family’s primary care. Whatever type of care provider you determine is right for you, who specifically you select to be on your team is important. These are people caring for you during one of the most vulnerable times of your life, so you want to make sure you feel comfortable, supported and trusting of that person (or people in the often case of a multi-provider group practice).
It is perfectly acceptable and encouraged for you to “shop around” and interview several providers before deciding who is right for you. Just because you have been seeing a doctor for your annual gynecological care doesn’t mean that they are the best fit for your pregnancy and labor.
When you make these initial interview appointments (they should be complementary; free of any charge) it’s best to bring your spouse or someone else with you to help be your eyes and ears, as well as a list of good questions that help you determine the care philosophy of who you are interviewing. A great source of questions to ask can be found at www.childbirthconnection.org.
As well as answering these questions, make sure to get a feel for the office environment, staff and the provider’s demeanor as you ask your questions. Does she seems open and willing to share her philosophy, or guarded and short while answering your inquiries? Does she seemed rushed and impatient, or happy to answer your questions? That said, you’ll want to be organized and respectful of this professional’s time.
Finally, be aware that it is your choice of provider that determines your place of birth. Doctors and midwives have admitting privileges at only certain hospitals or birth centers. If you have your mind set on a home birth, you’ll need to find providers that offer home birth services. If you have a particular hospital or birth center you have your heart set on, check those facilities’ websites or call and ask for their list of doctors or midwives. Your health insurance may also dictate who you can work with, so be sure to do your homework in that area as well.
The choice of who will help you birth your child is an important one. I was very happy that I made a switch and selected providers that shared a similar view with me regarding the birth process. This one singular choice often influences the care you and your child receive, impacts your ability (or lack of ability) to participate in decisions, and dictates the choices you will be given during labor and birth. Don’t make such an important decision based primarily on where an office is located, or what your neighbor said about her birth. Do your homework, talk it over with your spouse, and take it to God in prayer. For as Proverbs 2:6 reminds us, “For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”