I am closing in on my 3rd trimester of pregnancy, and I have had a wonderful experience. I want to share my journey and shed some light on options for those who are expecting. What I am sharing is purely my findings and experiences. I strongly encourage you to do your own research. That may help you decide what’s best for you, your family, and your little bundle of joy!
Let’s start at square one. I was being rather moody one day, according to my husband, who said, “You must be pregnant.” So we bought a home pregnancy test and, sure enough, we saw two pink lines! He was right, and believe me, he won’t hesitate to say so. I was filled with many thoughts and emotions, but my big question was, “OK, what now?”
We have so many options today from what we eat to what kind of car we drive. My husband literally spent three days researching vacuum cleaners before we finally bought one. No surprise, then, that we were going to look into options for prenatal care and delivery. I turned to Google, of course, where I found an endless supply of information. That much information can be pretty overwhelming. I learned about hospital births, home births, and birthing centers. There was information about medical professionals who could provide me prenatal care and care during delivery, for example, obstetricians, midwives, and doulas.
My mind was spinning. “I could have my baby at home. Huh, that might be kind of messy, and what about the dogs?” “Should I stay with my current gynecologist practice since it also offers obstetrics?” “Do I need a doula?” So many questions! To get the answers, I did some more digging.
Here’s what I found. An obstetrician is a medical doctor who specializes in care for women while they are pregnant, usually during labor and after giving birth. Obstetricians traditionally work in a hospital setting, and many of them are gynecologists.
A certified nurse midwife (CNM) is a nurse with additional education in midwifery who can provide well-woman care, prenatal care, and care through labor, birth, and after the birth. A CNM can work in hospitals, birthing centers, or private homes.
A doula typically does not have a medical background. A doula is trained in and familiar with aspects of pregnancy, labor, and birth. A doula’s focus is to provide physical and emotional support to the mom during this time. There are also postpartum doulas who provide care after a baby is born.
OK, so those are the people. What about places?
A typical hospital birth would probably include care from an obstetrician as well as other health care workers like nurses and possibly a midwife. From my research and speaking to other moms, I knew the baby would be monitored, probably limited by how much, or if, I could move around/change positions. There would be options for medications and procedures like epidurals as well as a Cesarean section if needed. Plus there would be advanced technology and medical care in case of an emergency. I also learned that some hospitals offer family-oriented birthing centers with a more laid back approach to labor and birth, depending on the type of medical staff.
Then there are free-standing birthing centers that are more like a home setting. They may offer well-woman care and prenatal care, as well as allow you to labor and birth there. They may also provide postpartum care to the mom. Each state has regulations for licensing and accrediting of free-standing birthing centers. If I planned to give birth there, I would have to meet the strict standards of a healthy, low-risk pregnancy. It’s important to find out your state’s requirements, the standards you need to meet to qualify for care there, and which hospital the birthing center is affiliated with.
Then there’s the option of home birth. I had watched several documentaries about pregnancy and birth and found there are strict standards for home births. You need to be having a healthy, low-risk pregnancy to qualify for a home birth. A midwife or CNM typically provides care and brings the necessary supplies to your home when you go into labor and, in case of an emergency, devises a plan for hospital transfer.
Before becoming pregnant, I didn’t know much about these options. I assumed I would have standard care from an ob-gyn and a typical hospital birth that may or may not involve medications. I now love to share my findings with others who are expecting (and even those who aren’t) so they become aware of the choices they have.
Stay tuned to learn more about the route I chose and why, as I continue to share my story with you!