Sara, the mother of a three-year-old girl and a five-month-old boy, knew from the very beginning what she wanted for the labor and delivery of both of her children. "I really wanted to avoid a C-section and an episiotomy, if it all possible," Sara confides, "and I wanted to do all I could to ensure that breastfeeding would get off to a good start." So when Sara first found out that she was pregnant with a little girl, she looked for a practitioner who shared her views on childbirth.
There are as many childbirth philosophies as there are practitioners. The trick, as an expectant couple, is to locate someone who matches your personal birth philosophy. Some women plan on demanding an epidural as soon as contractions start, while others feel more comfortable with a holistic approach and various pain-management techniques. Some pregnant women hope for a room filled with their family's smiling faces, while others want to labor alone in peace and quiet.
Sara found her perfect fit with a freestanding birth center; it was staffed by midwives with an OB available for transfer to a nearby hospital in case medical intervention was needed. On Sara's first prenatal visit to the birth center, she and her husband were both impressed. "We were totally sold—everything we wanted was standard with them, and they had the same philosophies as we had about pregnancy and birth (and a lovely birth center suite!)," says Sara.
When they conceived their son, Sara and her husband, Sam, decided to deliver at their Southern Maryland home. An inquisitive researcher at heart, Sara took the time to read books and articles, peruse websites, and talk with friends to establish her list of homebirth requirements. She came to certain conclusions about her birth philosophy and then sought out a practitioner and facility that could help her have a great birthing experience.
Understand Your Options
While Sara chose the natural childbirth route, it's not for everyone. No matter what your labor and delivery style, it's important to think about your options. Major questions arise when it comes to deciding how labor and delivery will be handled. Perhaps, like Sara, you've already investigated your options and have a clear picture of the kind of labor and delivery you want. Or maybe you haven't considered your options at all.