The Most Important Decisions You’ll Make: Careprovider

choosing and OB or midwife

It wasn’t until I became a doula ( after my third child) that I realized what were the two most important decisions I had made during my pregnancies.

 Who I chose as my care provider, and where I chose to give birth.

Your birth will affect you and your child for the rest of your lives. The way you give birth and most importantly the way you feel about it afterward will set you up for motherhood. The person who cares for you during pregnancy and delivery and the environment you give birth in will affect this, more so than anything else. The better the support, and the more comfortable you are in your environment means greater safety for you and your baby. (A Doula’s consistent support affects this as well, as evidenced by the studies in my prior post on Doula support.)

“Early in your pregnancy, it is important to make thoughtful decisions about who will be your caregiver and where you plan to give birth.” (

Childbirth Connection says these major decisions can influence the following:

  • the care that you receive and the effects of that care
  • the quality of your relationship with your main and other caregivers
  • the amount of information you receive
  • the choices and options you will have, particularly during your labor and birth
  • the degree to which you are involved with decisions about your care.

Ultimately it will also shape your entire experience in some of the following ways:

For the majority of low-risk women, you have options in and out of the hospital. There are many types of care providers: OB’s, Family Practice Doctors, Midwives, Nurse- Midwives.

It’s important to interview your care provider and see if you like their philosophy of birth, model of care , and style of practice. You may also have to take into consideration your insurance and financial situation.

Prep for Birth has an excellent article on choosing a care provider that has a list of questions to bring to an interview. She suggests taking a self-inventory after an interview; measure how the provider made you feel, how willing they were to answer your questions, and whether you and your partner liked the answers to those questions. If you don’t like the way you relate to someone during an interview or prenatal care, chances are you won’t like it during labor. Pay close attention to your intuition and honor it.

On that note, if you find late in the game that you don’t work well with your care provider, it’s never too late to hire a new one! You are your own advocate. Pursue the support you want and need.

Next month we’ll address Location! Location! Location!


More resources:

Preparing For Birth

Picking Your Care Provider – Interview Questions

Childbirth Connection

Choosing a Caregive: What you need to know.

Consider interviewing one of these experienced Grand rapids midwives:

Yolanda Visser CNM,CM

Birthsong Midwifery

Susan Wente CNM

Profile: Midwife Extrordinaire

Laura Slater, Midwife

MI Homebirth







What is a Doula?

what is a doula

Many in the natural parenting community may have stumbled upon this word at some point in their parenting journey. Modern day doulas are still a fairly new trend and I still get asked all the time, “What is a doula?”

The word doula comes from greek – it was used to refer to a woman’s close, personal servant.

Today the word doula refers to a professional labor support person. Doulas provide informational, emotional and physical support during pregnancy, the birth, and beyond. There are birth doulas that focus primarily on pregnancy, birth, and immediate postpartum. There are also Postpartum Doulas that specialize in supporting the newborn and family. Many doulas are trained for all of the above!

Doulas of North America defines a doula as the following:

A Birth Doula

  • Recognizes birth as a key experience the mother will remember all her life
  • Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor
  • Assists the woman in preparing for and carrying out her plans for birth
  • Stays with the woman throughout the labor
  • Provides emotional support, physical comfort measures and an objective viewpoint, as well as helping the woman get the information she needs to make informed decisions
  • Facilitates communication between the laboring woman, her partner and her clinical care providers
  • Perceives her role as nurturing and protecting the woman’s memory of the birth experience
  • Allows the woman’s partner to participate at his/her comfort level

The support of a doula provides many benefits to the mother, and her support persons. Statistically women who have a doula experience the following during birth:

  • Shorter labors
  • Less interventions, including induction,augmentation and assisted deliveries
  • Lower Cesarean Section Rates
  • More successful breastfeeding experience
  • Less need for pain mediation
  • More positive feelings associated with their birth experience
  • Less risk of postpartum mental disorders
  • More confidence as a parent

Any woman can benefit from the support of a doula. Even if you plan to have an epidural A.S.A.P., have an elective cesarean scheduled, or if things don’t go as planned. There is a  terrific article on the International Cesarean Awareness Network blog about doula support during a planned cesarean.

If you would like to know more about doulas, or meet some in our community the West Michigan Doulas Co-op  holds a Materni-tea the first Saturday of the month at 1pm and the third Thursday of the month at 6pm at Hopscotch Childrens Store. You can even check the growing list of local doulas here on GRNL’s local doula directory.

More resources from the DONA website:

  • Lying in, Canadian Medical Association Journal, September 17, 2002


Blog photo credit Jennifer Holshoe Photography