As you think about the birth of your baby what comes to mind? There are many different choices and options. Most in America decide to deliver their babies in hospitals. There are a ton of reasons why this is the primary choice: safety, resources available, doctor’s preference….. If your baby is born in a hospital and there are any extenuating circumstances you are in the best place to provide care. Yet, there are negative points to delivering in a hospital: more types of infection present, the thought that you might be forced into medical procedures you prefer not to go through, the rules at the hospital, etc.
Another possibility is a birthing center. Such a center is available to provide less stringent rules and a less regimented environment. Because only baby deliveries happen in these places there is less opportunity for crossover germs and the staff is trained in less institutional measures. A midwife oversees the delivery and the client has more input in the process. A back up hospital is selected in case there is a need.
A third option is a home birth. A midwife would be present for labor and delivery. Dad and mom have met with and become comfortable with the midwife they choose. They ask questions and prepare everything as the midwife suggests. Some insurance companies shy away from home births. Before you decide which birth experience you wish, check with your insurance company to see which they cover.
In any of these birth options I strongly suggest you have an advocate with you. This is someone who knows you well. A person with whom you have discussed your thoughts and wishes for your birth experience. It is someone you trust to make decisions for you when you are in labor and not thinking clearly. It is best if this advocate is not your birth partner or spouse. In the long shot that there are difficult decisions to make you want your advocate to be someone who has ‘been there done that’. In other words, someone who has delivered a baby or two themselves. This person understands your thoughts and desires and is strong enough to represent your wishes to the medical staff present. You and your partner are cognoscente and will make any major decisions. This person will back you up and make things clear both to you and for you. Certified birth doulas are specifically trained to do this.
If you have chosen to deliver at a hospital or a birthing center medical staff will be present. You could bring a qualified friend or a birth doula with you. A certified birth doula is trained to help you though the process of birth. She will meet you during your pregnancy and talk through the preparation and birth process with you. She will help you make choices for your birth plan and process ahead of time.
If you have chosen to deliver at home you will need to arrange for a mid-wife. In my home state of California it is required by law that you have either a licensed midwife or a medical doctor at your delivery. Other states may have other possibilities but I recommend you have either of these professionals with you for your protection and your baby’s. Both an MD and a mid-wife will have a back up hospital ready incase there is a need. Both are professionally trained to deliver babies and both should have extensive experience doing so. Both an MD and a midwife will monitor your pregnancy, testing for problems and measuring the growth of your baby. They will help you learn the possible due date of your baby and discuss delivery options with you.
Hopefully this has not been overwhelming for you. If you are early in your pregnancy you need to be monitored by an Obstetrician or mid-wife for your protection. No matter which mode of delivery you select walking through your pregnancy with a medically trained individual is vital. I am happy to help you select such a professional if you need suggestions.