Not only do you need to choose where you'll deliver your child, but just as importantly you must also decide who will be there to assist you. Yes, it is lovely to labor and deliver in the same room. And who can begrudge a laboring mom a room with fresh flowers, pretty wallpaper and original, signed etchings. But . . . none of this matters if you don't have a supportive team to help you through the birthing process. Here are your options: an obstetrician, a midwife, and/or a doula.
An obstetrician is a medical doctor who specializes in pregnancy, birth, and postpartum care. He or she is trained in all aspects of prenatal care and knows just what to do in case of a non-standard delivery.
Obstetricians almost exclusively deliver in traditional hospitals, so you need to be comfortable not only with the obstetrician you choose, but also with the hospital where she or he has admitting privileges.
If you have a high-risk pregnancy, an obstetrician is likely the correct choice for you.
There are a number of ways to find an obstetrician. For starters, ask your general physician and friends and family for recommendations. Keep these questions in mind as you begin to narrow your list of candidates:
- What is his or her rate of C-section?
- What is the policy on pain-relief medication?
- In what hospital will the delivery take place?
- How does he or she feel about having a doula or midwife in attendance?
- What is the rate of successful delivery?
For all your efforts to find an obstetrician who is the perfect match for you, there is always the possibility that it will not be the same one who delivers your baby. Many obstetricians are part of a group practice, with rotating on-call schedules. So plan on scheduling at least one prenatal appointment with each of the other members of the practice.