Posts Tagged ‘evidence base’

Selecting Maternal Health Care Partners

Friday, September 30th, 2011

When you discover you are pregnant, you face an array of important choices. It can be an overwhelming process at times to sort through all the information provided during pregnancy. The maternal health care partners that support you during this process have a big impact on your experience. Therefore be selective in the care providers you choose! Mothering begins during pregnancy! It is the first time you can consciously make decisions that directly affect your child. Prenatal care, labor, and birth can nurture a sense of empowerment in women and thus motherhood is positively impacted. You are able to approach mothering with a deeper awareness and a stronger consciousness.

Prenatal appointment with midwife done right in the comfort of my own bed

Maternal Health Care Partners include the following professionals:

Obstetrician
An obstetrician (OB) is a medical doctor and the most commonly used type of maternal health care provider by women in the United States.

Midwife
A midwife supports women during their childbearing years to provide health care during pregnancy, labor, birth, and post-partum. The word midwife literally means “with woman”. Rules and regulations for midwives vary widely per state so if you want to work with a midwife it’s important to understand your state’s guidelines for midwifery care. There are midwives who do homebirth, those who work at birth centers, and some who work in hospital settings. Check out Midwives Alliance of North America for more information.

Doula
A doula is a non-medical labor, birth, and post partum support person. They are educated and trained to provide a laboring mother physical and emotional support. There is a strong evidence base of positive birth outcomes and successful breastfeeding when a doula is used. Check out DONA International for more information about doulas.

Lactation Specialist
If you intend to breastfeed, creating a community of support is extremely beneficial. This can include professional support through a lactation consultant. A lactation consultant has training, knowledge, and expertise in helping you establish successful breastfeeding. If you are experiencing difficulties with breastfeeding, a Lactation Consultant can be a wonderful resource. Check out the International Board of Lactation Consultants Examiner for more information.

Childbirth Educator
A childbirth educator undergoes training and completes a certification process to provide pregnant woman with information about pregnancy, labor, and birth. Typically information is shared in a classroom-like format to a small group of women/couples who are at similar stages in their pregnancies. The information from a childbirth education class can help woman/couples better understand the changes that occur during pregnancy, the stages of labor, the pros/cons of medical interventions, and the basics of breastfeeding. Check out International Childbirth Education Association for more information.

An hour after birth...sharing in the joy and happiness with my midwife

Mutually reciprocated respect and trust is the foundation of a positive patient-provider relationship. As in all relationships, effective communication is a key ingredient. If you ever leave a prenatal appointment feeling discouraged, confused, or upset, honor those feelings as valid. Call your care provider and/or schedule another appointment in attempt to resolve any concerns as soon as possible. If you continually have negative interactions or experiences during prenatal appointments, consider choosing a new care provider.

Even if you are very far along in your pregnancy it is okay to make a change. I cannot emphasize this enough! So often I hear stories of a woman feeling discontent with the prenatal care they receive but unsure what to do about it. Then they often go on to have a dissatisfying birth experience with that care provider. If you are in that situation, grant yourself permission to explore all your options. Please don’t continue to receive less than optimal maternal health care. Pregnancy and childbirth are a sacred a time in your life; a time that deserves kind, compassionate, attentive, dedicated, and supportive health care partners. They exist abundantly and it’s worth the extra effort it may take to find the right match for your growing family.

What do you enjoy most about your health care partners? Did you have a doula, a childbirth educator and/or a lactation consultant? What was your experience?

-Sarah