An article from The Guardian has been making its way around the interwebs lately that I finally had a chance to read this weekend. While the focus of the piece is about breastfeeding and the Author's experience of getting her friend to feed her baby, what struck me the most about the article was when she describes the horrible experience she had with her Midwife. I don't care about how or even who fed the woman's baby - I support feeding babies in whatever form that may take - but health practitioners who don't adequately support a patient's birthing choices really chap my hide.
If you are pregnant, I can't possibly stress enough how much it matters that you select a Doctor or Midwife who supports the way in which you desire to give birth. You wouldn't buy a pair of shoes without trying them on first, so why would you trust the birth of your child(ren) to just any old schmoe? The Gyno you've seen for years to help you avoid having babies might not be right for your transition from "footloose and childfree" to "saddled with offspring". Ask for recommendations, do some research and choose someone with whom you connect.
Five Guidelines for Choosing the Right OB or Midwife:
2. How does your OB feel about natural birth? If you want to have a natural, un-medicated, Hypnobabies birth, it is absolutely imperative that your doctor supports your choice. It is going to be incredibly difficult for you to have a successful natural birth with a doctor who either doesn't support that or has very little experience with it. I had incredibly positive birth experiences both times because my Doctors were advocates for natural birth. I recently heard a story about a woman whose OB said he didn't like women to have vaginal births because afterwards their husband's wouldn't like sex as much. Okay, really!? First of all, after you've given birth your husband is just happy he's getting sex at all, so he's not too concerned if things are a little roomier than they were before YOU PUSHED A HUMAN OUT OF YOUR COOCH. Second, if that's your Doctor's attitude then you need to find someone new, stat. I don't care if you're already 36 weeks pregnant there is always, always a Doctor who will be your advocate. On the flip side of that, if you have no interest in a natural birth and you want to take more drugs than I did in high school to get you through labor, you probably won't be happy with a Midwife named Rainbow who prefers to attend home water births.
3. Does the hospital your Doctor works out of support natural birth? Just as with OBs, certain hospitals are great for natural birth, and some are not. I personally had two incredible births at Cedars Sinai. The labor and delivery nurses were wonderful - warm, professional, knowledgeable about Hypnobabies - and the nurses are a huge part of what kind of birth experience you end up having. The nurse who attended the Muffin Man's birth also attended one of my nephew's births, which was pretty cool. In my experience once the nurses became aware that I wanted a natural birth they did everything in their power to make that happen. They never once offered me painkillers, and I had the use of a shower, a birth ball, a birthing rail, the ability to walk, etc. Most of the hospitals in LA are equipped to support a natural birth, but again, this is also going to depend on which doctor you choose.
4. Does this Doctor or Midwife make me feel cared for? Listen to your intuition because I think it gets stronger once you get pregnant and become a Mother. If your caregiver doesn't seem to care what kind of birth you want, or seems annoyed by your questions or phone calls, then she is probably not going to be more patient, more focused on how you're doing when you're in labor. If you're not feeling all warm and fuzzy towards your Doctor when your unborn child is still a zygote, you are going to feel such extreme hatred toward her when you're in your 16th hour of labor and she's spending more time checking Facebook than checking your cervix.
5. Should I change Doctors? Thankfully, I've never been in this situation, but if you get halfway (or more) through your pregnancy and you decide that the Doctor you've chosen is not for you, make a change and find someone new. I know a woman who decided at 30 weeks that she wanted a home birth and she found a midwife to take her on as a patient. You are your own advocate. You must speak up for yourself and your child. This is only the beginning of having to speak up - you will have to advocate for your kid for years on end, so start practicing now. There is no shame in demanding what you want, and seeking out someone who can provide what you desire in a birth experience.
The bottom line is that it's your vag and your child's birth, and somebody has to do right by it. Decide what you want, what's right for you, do your research and choose a provider* accordingly. And remember, there is nothing to be ashamed of if you change your mind and go for the drug cocktail; that labor sh*t hurts.