After you have decided on what your ideal birth looks like, it is important to not just hope that everything works out. Be proactive. There are choices you can make during pregnancy that will help determine the course of your labor and delivery. One of the best things you can do is to choose the right care provider. How do you know if you have found the right one?
Find out your care provider’s philosophy on birth.Does their philosophy match your own? If it is important to you to have an unmedicated birth, then don’t choose the doctor who has a high induction rate. If you want an epidural, you probably don’t want to use the home birth midwife as your care provider.
Ask questions.Make a list of the most important things surrounding your birth. Take it with you to your prenatal appointments. You may ask:
- What is your C-section rate? Induction rate? Episiotomy rate?
- If you are unable to attend my birth, who will take your place?
- What prenatal testing do you recommend?
- Do you typically do cervical checks at prenatal appointments? How often? During labor?
- What happens if I go past my due date?
- Are you comfortable with a doula attending my birth?
- Can I eat or drink during labor? Can I labor in a tub? Are there any restrictions on these?
- What positions can I try during pushing? What type of pushing do you encourage?
- Do you have hospital privileges? At which hospital?
Choose a provider that works at a facility you are comfortable in.Women labor best where they feel safest. We know that when animals in labor feel threatened, their bodies will momentarily stop their labor¹ . Humans are no different. Do you feel safest at home? In a birth center? In a hospital? Make sure your care provider can accommodate that. Do your homework about these facilities. Will the hospital you choose be supportive of your plans to breastfeed?
For example, for you ladies local to Cleveland and Chattanooga, TN did you know our very own Erlanger Hospital (Baroness campus) was recognized as the first hospital in Tennessee to receive a Baby-Friendly designation. This means they have implemented the ten steps to successful breastfeeding as outlined by Baby-Friendly USA. If breastfeeding is an important goal for you, then maybe find a care provider who has privileges here.There is no one right way to give birth. Find the way that is right for you, but don’t make the mistake of assuming your doctor or midwife will help you achieve that ideal birth. Find someone who you are confident will do everything to keep you and your baby safe and healthy while also respecting your wishes. Remember, it is never too late to take charge of your birth. References Lothian J. (2009). Safe, healthy birth: What every pregnant woman needs to know. Journal of Prenatal Education. 18(3), 48–5
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