How to Find a Caregiver to Support Your Ideal Birth
After you have completed your birth plan (or at least finished your first draft) it’s time to find a caregiver who will help you have the birth experience that you hope to have. One of the most difficult parts of pregnancy and birth is to find a caregiver who supports your vision of an ideal birth, and who you like and trust.
If you are a person who feels comfortable around technology, you might choose medical birth. However, your choices are just beginning:
Do you want to move freely throughout your labour?
Do you want to be able to choose your birthing position? Many body positions are more effective than others to open the lower half of the pelvis. For example, squatting increases the diameter of the pelvis an additional 10 per cent [i] and many labour beds can be easily maneuvered to support a labouring woman in a squatting position.
Do you want to labour without medication to maximize bonding time with your baby immediately after birth? Do you want medication during your labour? If so, when?
Do you want to be able to eat and drink throughout your labour?
Do you want to bring a doula with you to help calm and support you and your partner throughout your labour and birth?
Do you want to play music in the background?
Do you want to dim the lighting in the birthing room to help your baby to adapt to the outside world more easily?
There are many medical practitioners who would welcome these comforting touches in your birthing room; you just have to ask for them. In the end, it is the doctor who tells the labour nurses what is allowed in the birthing rooms, and if your caregiver says yes, (make sure you get this in writing) you’ll be able to bring all of these comforts with you.
If you are a person who likes to have lots of input into how you will birth your baby, you will most likely choose a midwifery birth. With midwives as your caregivers, you can birth your baby in a hospital, at home or at a birth centre, if there is one in your area. With midwifery birth, you can easily add the following to your birth plan:
Soft music in the background
A water birth
Easy movement throughout labour and birth
Birth position determined by the mother, whether squatting, kneeling, on all fours, or on a birthing stool
A chance to bath with your baby after birth. (Highly recommended!)
More people with you at your birth – for midwifery birth, you may have the option to have more people attend your birth. For example, some women want their partner, a doula and another family member present to support their labour and birth.
A midwifery birth differs slightly from a medical birth in that the foundation of midwifery philosophy is informed choice, which allows you many more options for care that is suited to your unique situation.
Midwives practice in small teams of two or three, and they attend fewer births each month. Usually, you will have one of your primary midwives come to you from the time you begin active labour and a second midwife will join you during the advanced stages of labour as back up support. For the first few visits after your baby is born, midwives will come to your home to monitor how you and your baby are doing and assist you with breastfeeding and early parenting skills.
Networking can help you find your ideal caregiver
Once you have a general idea of the kind of birth you’d like to have, it’s time to do some research!
If your medical doctor to recommend good caregivers in your community.
Look for low risk maternity clinics in your area.
Visit your local midwives websites, choose the clinics that appeal to you and make an appointment to see what they have to offer. Many midwifery clinics host open houses to present what they do and answer all of the questions that you may have.
Ask your friends and family members about their birth experiences and if they were happy with their caregivers.
You may have a local mom’s Facebook page in your community – join it and post your questions about who are good caregivers in your area. You’ll get lots of great advice from well-intentioned moms, I assure you.
Once you have a list of names, make appointments to meet and interview them all as soon as possible. Many women have a short window of opportunity to be accepted by a popular caregiver.
[i] Michel SC, Rake A, et al. “MR obstetric pelvimetry: effect of birthing position on pelvic bony dimensions.” AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2002 Oct; 179(4):1063-7.
Dr. Melanie Beingessner is a pregnancy and pediatric-focussed chiropractor, a breastfeeding counselor, an infant massage instructor and a mom of three awesome kids.