You’re pregnant! Congratulations!

Conceiving a child, carrying it to term and giving birth is a life changing event. Planning for this special event means exploring what will be best for you and your partner as you go through your pregnancy.

Do you want a high-tech/low-touch birth or a low-tech/high-touch birth? As you explore, keep in mind that there is no wrong way to have your baby. As individuals we all come from different perspectives or cultures and what works for one person may not work for another. That’s the beauty of finding the best birth option for your particular needs and desires.

Choosing your Healthcare Provider

One of the first questions you’ll tackle will be who will provide your healthcare during the your pregnancy. Choosing a healthcare provider depends on what is available in your community and what type of experience you desire. Most practitioners are in a group practice, which means that you will see all the practitioners throughout the pregnancy and generally the person on-call will assist with the birth, unless prior arrangements are made with a particular practitioner that you may want, such as:

An obstetrician/gynecologist (Ob/Gyn), who is skilled not only to help you through a low-risk vaginal birth but also able to perform any scheduled or emergency surgery, such as a Cesarean birth.

A family practice (FP) physician, who generally cares for women with low-risk pregnancy. This provider will care for you throughout the pregnancy and birth, plus take care of your newborn and you after you give birth.

A certified nurse midwife (CNM), who typically offers a low-tech/high-touch birth and may practice in a hospital setting or a free-standing birth center. All prenatal and postnatal care is provided for the newborn and you. In some cases, a pediatrician or physician will care for the newborn and you post-birth, but ask the midwife beforehand what your options are.

Additionally, you may want the serices of a doula to help you through labor and birth as you work with any of these healthcare providers. Doulas assist as a labor coach and the word doula means “with women.” She is an assistant who provides various forms of non-medical support, such as physical, emotional and informed choice support, during childbirth.

You will also need to find a pediatrician for the baby prior to giving birth. The pediatrician will likely stop by the hospital or birthing center after you’ve given birth to check on your newborn.

When an emergency arises

In any emergency, a OB/GYN is typically consulted. When that special day arrives, keep in mind a couple of things: if you have a birth plan, be flexible with your expectations as things can unexpectedly change. Request a nurse who shares and supports your choices.

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Joanne Goldbort, PhD, MSN, RN, is an assistant professor in the College of Nursing at Michigan State University and an expert nurse adviser to Healthy Mom&Baby.

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