There are some prevailing misconceptions surrounding choosing a birth team that could use some clarification. During my own first pregnancy, I wasn’t even aware that not all doctors deliver babies. I’m sure I am not alone in my ignorance.
The infographic below contains valuable information that every pregnant person should be aware of so they can make informed choices. It explains the main differences between primary care providers and their models of care, and reviews key points regarding support for labour and birth, be that a doula, friends and/or family, or a combination.
Choosing who to include or exclude as personal support during your labour and birth can be a challenging task. I urge you to set aside any temptation to feel bad or guilty should you choose to exclude someone who really wants to be at your baby’s birth, but that you know is not suited to the birth experience you desire.
It is your right as a birthing person to choose who will support you. Many women are not aware of this right (socially as well as legally), and often succumb to pressure from friends and/or family, ending up with people in the room that aren’t conducive to a favourable experience. Results from various studies show a direct correlation to the efficiency and progress of labour, and the birthing environment. All human beings give off energy. Your labour could be negatively impacted if you are not surrounded by energy that is a good fit for you.
My advice? Go with your gut and trust your intuition. You will know who fits best on your birth team.
The last misconception I’d like to touch on is the belief that an obstetrician (OB) is the best choice for all births. Numerous articles and blog posts state that OB’s are the top experts in the field of pregnancy and childbirth, which isn’t totally untrue, it’s just a bit misleading.
In no way am I trying to take away from an OB’s expertise, I merely want to direct the scope of this high praise closer to the truth. The Canadian Medical Association’s Obstetrics/Gynecology Profile states that obstetrics/gynecology is a specialty that encompasses medical, surgical, obstetrical and gynecologic knowledge and skills for the prevention, diagnosis and management of a broad range of conditions affecting women’s general and reproductive health.
In simpler terms, OB’s are experts in the medical management of pathological, risky, or complicated pregnancies. Since they are on-call in the majority of hospitals, you can safely consider them to be more like your back up, instead of a first line up. They perform Caesarean sections, as well as interventions for a number of situations ranging from shoulder dystocia to uterine hemorrhage.
Obstetricians are valuable members of our health care system, and we should be grateful to have these highly trained individuals on-call and ready to assist when needed. That being said, it is important to clarify that an obstetrician is best suited to high-risk, complicated pregnancies and emergent situations than as a primary care provider offering general birth support.
Essentially, it comes down to what your needs and wants are for your birth. If your mom or mother-in-law is pining to be in the birthing space with you, but you don’t want her there – it’s your call. If you feel most comfortable with your family doctor that you’ve had since you were a child, instead of being under the care of a midwife – again, it’s your call. If your partner doesn’t see the value in having a doula, but you do – yes, it is your call!
You are your best advocate, and you know yourself the best. I am confident you will make the choice that’s right for you. If you would like to discuss these options further please don’t hesitate to get in touch.