Chris and I had decided what type of birth and care provider we wanted before getting pregnant. I'd read a lot on the subject and felt that working with a midwife and doula and having a medication-free birth at a hospital were the right choices for me. Chris is on the same page.
When I was researching pregnancy and birth I found it so helpful to read about the experience of other women and what they were going through so I wanted to share a bit more about our decisions for care providers during my pregnancy.
Our midwives and hospital. I feel so lucky to have found a great practice that has midwives and ob/gyns on staff. I like the philosophy of midwives that birth is a natural process and that minimal intervention is best for mom and baby. Since this is my first birth I feel good knowing that should any complications arise during my pregnancy or birth I can stay within the same practice and see an ob/gyn and that I'll be at a hospital during the birth. We see three different midwives at our practice and which ever one is on call when I go into labor will be the one that delivers our baby. Our practice is also great because all ultrasounds and blood work are done in their office and I never have to go elsewhere for procedures.
We're also lucky that we have a great hospital where our midwives deliver just 15 minutes from our house. They have large labor and delivery rooms, birthing tubs, and birthing balls and we've heard that the staff is very accommodating of women who want non-medicated births.
We've also chosen to participate in a program called Family Circle through our midwifes' office. At 5 months we started having our appointments in the evenings (conveniently after work) and we meet with eighteen other couples who are all due within a month of us (lots of spring babies!). We each get an individual appointment with the midwife but then have group education and discussion afterwards. We're enjoying getting to know the other couples and seeing how different and similar everyone's experience is.
Our doula. The other care provider we have is a doula. When I first mentioned having a doula to Chris at the beginning of the pregnancy he wondered, "what does she do that I won't do?" I explained that I thought it would be beneficial to have someone who would be with us constantly through the birth (the midwife could be in and out if she is attending to other women in labor) and to have someone that's not only given birth but coached other women through medication-free births.
As we read more about the many benefits of having a doula and the support a doula would offer us Chris became very much on board. I love our doula and am so glad she's part of our birth team. She has a very positive and calming presence and she makes me feel confident about giving birth. She also teaches prenatal yoga at my yoga studio. During class she talks about different positions that might be helpful for labor and we focus on having very positive attitudes about our labor and birth; it's like a mini-birth education class!
Her total fee is $450 (none is covered by insurance) which includes:
+ coming to our house for an initial visit (which we already did).
+ being available to us for any questions or issues (I text her to let her know how I'm doing or call to ask questions about recommendations for baby gear since she has four kids).
+ two meetings at our house in the month or so before birth to review our birth plan and to talk in detail about the birth process.
+ being with us through the whole birth from as early as we'd like her at the house until 2-3 hours after the birth.
+ two meetings at our house after the birth within the first week to be sure I'm recovering, that breastfeeding is going OK, and that we're settling in as a family.
Given the amazing support that we're getting it's well worth the money to us. We love that our doula will come to our house as early in labor as we'd like and help me to labor as long as possible at the house. I think I'll feel comfortable laboring longer at the house since she'll be able to help us determine when it's time to go to the hospital. Hopefully this will be mean I'll be at less of a risk of "laboring too long" at the hospital which could lead to pressure for interventions.
I know that Chris will be an awesome birth coach and having a doula isn't because I don't think we could do it on our own. But seeing me in labor could be stressful or scary for him. Our doula will also be able to comfort Chris and reassure him that I'm doing well and help guide him if he's at a loss of what to do to help me. I'm all about having as much support as we can for such a new and significant experience.
I thought that hiring a doula was something that was done after the sixth month or so but when I mentioned this early on to my midwife she said, "Oh no, they can get booked up, you should hire one soon!" So we hired our doula in the first trimester. Because she's an additional resource to us throughout the pregnancy and only takes one client a month I'd also recommend looking for a doula sooner than later if it's something you are considering.
We've felt very supported by our care providers throughout the pregnancy and I know that it's helping me feel confident and calm (so far) as we get closer to the big event of meeting our son.