Making the decision to have a child - it's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body.
Making the decision to have a child may have been momentous – but you will soon discover that there are countless important decisions awaiting you. Not the least of which is choosing the right caregiver for the antenatal care of you and your baby.
The first thing to remember before you embark on the journey of reading and discovery to understand the facts and options out there is that this is your choice. Don’t give a second thought to how your mother, your sister or your best friend did it. Giving birth is a very personal experience and the person you choose to care for you and your baby during your pregnancy must be someone that makes you feel comfortable and secure. Making informed choices in early pregnancy allows you and your partner to enjoy a pregnancy and birth experience that embodies your own wants and beliefs. Choosing a caregiver is only one step in creating a birth plan - the ideal birth scenario that you imagine will influence this choice.
When making this important decision, remember that the person you choose will be with you throughout your pregnancy as well as during the birth process. (Do bear in mind that this decision is not cast in stone – it is your prerogative to change your mind in the months to come.)
Caregivers vary in terms of their philosophy of birth, the amount of time spent with you, involving you in decision-making and birth settings that they work in. All of these are important details to establish upfront.
The Options Explained:
Obstetricians – most of whom are also gynaecologists - deal with the care of a woman and her baby during pregnancy, childbirth and the period shortly after birth. An obstetrician will see you on a regular basis, with the regularity of visits influenced by your health and that of your baby. Choosing an obstetrician as your caregiver generally means that you will have your baby in a hospital setting. Obstetricians are qualified to perform Caesarians as well as being qualified to deal with all complications that may arise during pregnancy or birth. Obstetricians are as unique as the mothers they tend to – talk to yours to ensure that your philosophies surrounding birth coincide.
The word "midwife" comes from Old English and means "with woman." Midwives are not physicians but are professionally trained to care for expectant mothers and their babies. A midwife will support you throughout your pregnancy and will strive to help you have a healthy pregnancy and a natural birth – be it in the hospital, in water or at home. Midwives offer clinical skills combined with personal care and support but will refer you to an obstetrician should serious complications arise. Again, every person is different - you must be sure to choose a midwife who is in harmony with you and who you feel comfortable being with. Midwifery is not advisable for women with higher-risk pregnancies.