Pregnancy and labor are processes that benefit from a thoughtful plan and an informed perspective. Before you begin the journey of motherhood, choosing the setting, circumstances, and supporting people throughout those most important nine months is essential. You have a lot of options for health care professionals in prenatal and labor care, so here are some things to consider before you choose who will help you bring your child into the world.
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Many women choose to rely on a physician specializing in obstetrics and gynecology for the prenatal and labor processes. This is the best choice for expecting mothers who need additional medical care, such as managing a pregnancy along with a chronic condition like diabetes, or those who are at elevated risk for complications. While physicians tend to be busy and not the least expensive of your options, you will be in the care of a full-service medical professional with the power of referral for all of your specific needs.
An option growing in popularity today, a doula is a specialized childbirth professional who acts as a person of support at various stages of pregnancy and beyond. Though they are trained and certified professionals, doulas are not medically certified and do not provide medical services. Many doulas specialize in a particular stage of the process, choosing between prenatal, labor or postpartum care. For expecting mothers who want more personal and emotional support during some part of the process, a doula can make for a remarkable ally.
A certified nurse midwife is a trained medical professional who provides medical and counseling services to expecting mothers at every stage of pregnancy, labor, and postpartum. These professionals offer a good balance of thorough medical care similar to a physician, while also offering the personalized counseling support of a doula. For many women, a certified nurse midwife is also a primary care provider. In fact, a majority of a CNM’s time is spent providing preventative, reproductive health, and consulting services.
In addition to the types of care professionals you choose, you should also plan for the location where you wish to give birth. A majority of births occur in hospitals, though there are many different kinds of settings in general care institutions. Birthing wards are often specially equipped for the needs of women in labor as well as their families. Some hospitals also have nearby associated birthing centers that operate independently but enjoy easy access to other medical services should the need arise.
Some people choose to have a home birth. While this may be more comfortable and affordable, it’s also more high-risk as the average home lacks direct access to emergency medical services. Those who choose to have a home birth should partner with certified medical professionals experienced in labor that takes place in a non-hospital setting.
Whatever combination of setting and professional care providers you choose, you should approach your pregnancy from an informed perspective. Learn what services are available in your area and what your specific needs will be from the first day of pregnancy to the first few months of the postpartum period.