Meeting your baby for the first time will be a moment you’ll remember for the rest of your life. Because of this, it’s important to give birth in an environment where you feel comfortable, safe, and confident that your wishes will be respected and honored. Of course, you can’t predict exactly how your labor and birth will go, but you can set yourself up for success by doing your research and exploring your options.
Selecting a Care Provider
First things first. You have several options when choosing a provider to care for you during your pregnancy and birth. Some expecting moms choose to interview multiple providers to make sure they are confident in the care they’ll receive during this special time. Or, you may already have a good relationship with an OB-GYN, Family Practice physician, or Certified Nurse-Midwife who provides prenatal care and delivers babies. The best fit depends on several things:
What type of birth experience you are looking for
Where you want to give birth (hospital, birth center, etc.)
Whether your pregnancy is normal or high risk
Your insurance coverage
No matter who you choose as your caregiver, make sure to pick someone you feel comfortable with, someone you trust, someone who respects your needs and concerns, and someone whose philosophy on birth is compatible with yours.
Developing a Birth Plan
Where you give birth is just as important as who you choose as a care provider. The location depends on what is available in your area, what facility options (hospital or birth center) your insurance covers, and where your care provider is able to practice. Some facilities are more supportive than others when it comes to the birth process and keeping mom and baby together to encourage breastfeeding. Here are tips on preparing for breastfeeding.
Hospitals and birth facilities that are designated “Baby-Friendly” have gone through a rigorous accreditation process to follow best practices for mom and baby care – their nursing staff have received specialized education in breastfeeding and you can feel confident that breastfeeding will be supported throughout your stay.
Only about a small percentage of hospitals in the U.S. have been awarded Baby-Friendly status, so check out this directory to see if there’s a baby-friendly hospital in your area. If there isn’t, you can still find a facility that will respect your wishes. Talk to your doctor, midwife, childbirth instructor, or the manager of the unit where you’re considering delivering. Tell them you’re interested in having your baby at their hospital and you’d like to learn more about how they support breastfeeding. Here are tips for preparing to breastfeeding while pregnant.
Just remember that no matter how many doctors you interview, how many facilities you tour and how far in advance you pack your hospital bag, it’s impossible to be 100% prepared for the somewhat unpredictable journey that is childbirth and motherhood. Just breathe, do your best, and know that we’re always here with support.