Not all pregnancies are the same, even when you have had previous children. Some questions you may ask are: What choices do we have for our birthing experience? Do birth plans really work? Will my medical caregiver have the time and interest in honoring my preferences for my childbirth experience? There is a great deal of information available through childbirth classes, new mom groups and parents clubs, the internet and word of mouth. But where do you start?
Choosing a practitioner best suited to your personal and medical needs is usually the first step. Defining your wishes for your pregnancy, and developing a birth plan, is also an important part of the process. Birth plans can help create a more positive experience, but those plans can also be dismissed if your delivery has an unexpected twist. Sharing your preferences ahead of time with your care provider is critical to gaining a commitment to honoring them.
In addition to choosing a doctor or midwife to help you through this exciting time, another important choice to make is where you want to deliver your baby. We are very fortunate in the Bay Area to have great tertiary centers for high-risk mothers and babies. These hospitals offer the advanced medical care needed when more medical interventions are necessary. For non-high-risk pregnancies, there are hospitals and birth centers that provide a low intervention, patient-driven, family centered labor and delivery experience. Choose a facility where the nursing team is your partner. Consider cesarean section rates, breastfeeding rates and safety measures. Look up reviews online and talk to others about their experiences.
Choice of activities during labor are another thing to consider for your birthing experience. Some families prefer to walk the hallways while others prefer to rest in the shower or jacuzzi. Others may prefer rocking in a chair or even bouncing on a birth ball. These are just a few of the activities encouraged by trained labor and delivery personnel promoting natural childbirth.
Another consideration is breastfeeding. More and more hospitals across the nation are achieving Baby Friendly designation. This certification is given by the World Health Organization to hospitals that agree to policies and offer training to doctors, midwives, nurses and lactation consultants to promote breastfeeding.
Take the time to ask yourself and your partner these important questions. Do the research and ask your friends and loved ones. Find the right doctor or midwife and birth center for your optimal birth experience. It’s a life changing event — and it’s your event.
Maria Greulich, RN, CNM has worked closely with OB/GYNs, perinatologists and pediatricians throughout her career and currently practices at El Camino Hospital Los Gatos. Coming from a large family and birthing her own five kids, she values working with family’s needs and wants during the birth experience.