So, you’ve decided to have a natural childbirth – that’s great! Now in order to start your care, you have to decide who you want to provide your prenatal care, and also where you would like to bring your baby into this world. You have the options of hospital birth, birth center birth, or ahome birth. With each of these comes a different form of care provider: Obstetrician (OBGYN), Midwife, and Doula. Let’s take a look at each, and discuss the differences between them so you can decide which childbirth option best meets your needs.
A licensed midwife is a birth and pregnancy professional who provides maternity and gynecological care throughout your pregnancy and birth. The licensed midwives at SCV Birth Center specialize in preparing and guiding women through the process of safe and natural childbirth. We practice intermittent fetal monitoring during the birth, which carefully monitors the baby and mommy’s safety in accordance with the requirements set by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
While most midwives either work at a birth center or specialize in home births, there are some midwives who work at hospitals. Some high-risk pregnancies require a hospital birth with an OBGYN, but most regular pregnancies have the option of choosing a licensed midwife instead.
A licensed midwife has completed years of education and training and is licensed by the medical board. They are responsible for the health care and safety of mommy and baby, just as an OBGYN is. Licensed midwives can perform gynecological exams, monitor the baby, provide prenatal and postnatal care, and much more.
An Obstetrician, or OBGYN, is a medical professional that is usually contracted with a hospital birth. While you may see your OBGYN a few times throughout your prenatal care, most doctors are not personally invested in your natural childbirth. Obstetricians generally use continuous fetal monitoring during birth, which the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has strongly recommended against using for low-risk pregnancies. OBGYNs are trained and licensed in surgical operations such as cesarean sections. In the very few cases where a C-section is required, you can still have a midwife or doula, but the care is ultimately transferred to the OBGYN. Many hospitals have strict policies that require drug intervention and don’t allow for the natural birthing process to fully occur.
A doula is a great addition to a licensed midwife or an OBGYN. A doula will not replace your healthcare provider but instead be there to emotionally support you. There are two different types of doulas: postpartum and birth or labor. A birth doula will help coach you through the laboring process and help make your experience as smooth and comfortable as possible. They will encourage you emotionally and help maintain your comfort. A postpartum doula will support your new family through the process of bringing the new baby home and all the changes involved in a growing family. Doulas can be a part of your birth at any location.
Most doulas are certified, but certification is not required to hold the title doula. Labor/birth Doulas are non-clinical professionals who are able to provide emotional and mental support, and encourage and support communication between you and your health care team and self-advocacy. They should not be part of any medical decisions.
Ultimately, you need to choose a health provider that you are comfortable with. Birth is a very personal experience and you want to make sure to select the care that is right for you and your baby. Contact our licensed midwives at the SCV Birth Center and see if natural childbirth at a certified birth center is right for you.