Updated: May 13
Two of the most important decisions you will make regarding your birth are who will attend your birth and where you plan to give birth. Can you imagine walking into labor, already nervous, and having to face a care provider who barely knows your name, doesn't know your birth plan, and maybe even... gasp... doesn't care? Having a provider who you feel safe with, and who you are "on the same page" with is crucial. Your healthcare provider is an integral part of your birth team, and if you have a provider who is complacent, has high cesarean rates, or is known to be a plain jerk, well, that can make a huge difference not only in your birth experience, but also the health of you and your baby. It is so important to interview providers before selecting one by default. But before you start that process, you should consider what model of care you prefer. There are two models of care in childbirth: the medical model and the midwifery model. Today we're going to discuss these a bit so you can figure out which one is bests for you and then you can start looking for a provider you click with!
Before we get started, I think it is important to disclaim that an obstetrician could be much more aligned with the "midwifery model" of care, and a midwife could be more aligned with the "medical model". I'm not using these terms to put anyone in a box and I don't want you to get hung up on titles, but I think this verbiage is the easiest for understanding the two primary approaches to maternity care.
Less likely to put an emphasis on emotional support
Place a high level of importance and reliance on medications and technology
May follow their typical "courses of action" to care instead of laying out all of your options and helping you decide what is right for you
More likely to take a lead role in medical decision making for you, as opposed to putting an emphasis on shared decision making with you
Focused on managing risks, potential risks, and looking for signs of complications (ie. act now so xyz doesn't happen later)
More likely to focus on treating you as a whole person, including an emphasis on emotional support
Focus on monitoring for potential problems with a more "laid back" approach (ie wait for it to happen, then act)
Focus on educating you about your options so you can share in the decision making for you and your baby's care
Understand that medications and technologies have a time and place, and know how to use them effectively when necessary
Understand informed decision making requires giving you the options to say yes and they respect your "no"
Which approach to pregnancy care resonates with you more? Someone who is detached, or someone who you feel connected to? Do you prefer to have emotional support in your provider? Do you hope for a provider that "drives the car" for you, so to speak, or do you prefer a provider that shares the map with you, and then hands you the keys?
There is no right or wrong answer here. The point is for you to reflect on what you want out of your pregnancy care so that you can find the right provider for you.
Now, you're ready to start interviewing providers... ask around in your community for reviews on providers who fit your philosophy on birth. When you meet with them, ask open ended questions. Ask yourself if you would feel important to this provider or like you're "wasting their time". Do they make you feel supported and respected, or would you feel dumb for asking certain questions? What signals does their body language send? Don't put too much pressure on yourself to find the "perfect" provider. If you start care with someone and find out they indeed are NOT a good fit, you can always switch providers during your pregnancy! Now, you've got one more person on your birth team to help make sure you have a healthy and positive birth experience! Looking for more support? Consider other complementary professionals to help guide you to your birth. Professionals you should begin researching are childbirth educators, doulas, lactation consultants, pediatricians, and birth photographers!
Jaimie Zaki, owner of Little Bear Services, LLC is a Birth Photographer, Labor Doula, & IBCLC serving families in South Jersey and Central New Jersey. Mother of three, military wife, and lover of coffee, Jaimie enthusiastically supports hospital and home births in Burlington County, Camden County, Mercer County, Atlantic County, Ocean County in New Jersey. If you reside outside of this service area, there are online courses and virtual support packages available! Jaimie is excited to serve your family! Learn more about Jaimie and the services she offers!
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