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Choosing the right birth care provider is crucial for a positive birth experience. This post will explore common pitfalls and provide insights into making an informed decision, ensuring you and your baby get the birth you want and deserve.

Understanding Birth Care Options

When embarking on your birth journey, understanding the various types of birth care providers is essential.

Choosing a provider who respects your birth plan and preferences is crucial. Personalized care leads to better birth outcomes and a more satisfying childbirth experience.

 

Choosing a birth care provider

If you don’t know your options,

you don’t have any.

 

~Diana Korte

Mistake #1: Not Doing Your Research

Often when we first realise we are pregnant we go to the GP.

The GP then asks if you have private health cover. If the answer is “No” then they tell you which public hospital catchment you live on and send off a referral.

If the answer is “Yes” they will ask which OB you want to see or tell you who they prefer and send off a referral.

But did you know there were more options than just public or private and that you can self-refer?

Do your research into all the Birth Options available in your area.

In Perth, Western Australia, expectant parents have several birth options to choose from, including:

 

Hospital Birth:

  • Private hospitals provide maternity services where you can choose your obstetrician.
  • Public hospitals offer both low-risk and high-risk maternity care, often with options for midwifery-led care or obstetrician-led care.

 

Birth Centre:

  • Birth centres provide a more homely environment for childbirth, often with a focus on optimising physiological birthing processes.
  • They are staffed by the hospital midwives and typically cater to low-risk pregnancies.
  • We currently have  two birth centres in Perth. A free-standing one at King Edwards Memorial Hospital and an in-hospital one (which I  refuse to call a birth center as it actually just very nice rooms in a major tertiary hospital but that is a whole other blog) at Fiona Stanley Hospital
  • There is another  Midwifery Birth Centre opening in mid-2024 and it will be on the site of Bentley Hospital. It will provide continuity of care with an endorsed midwife. https://www.bhs.health.wa.gov.au/Services/Midwifery-Birth-Centre

 

Private Midwifery Care:

  • Independent midwives or privately practicing midwives services offer personalized care throughout pregnancy, childbirth, and the postnatal period (usually for 6 weeks), either at home or in a public hospital setting.
  • All privately practicing midwives are Endorsed Midwives

 

Public Midwifery Care:

  • Community-based midwifery programs, like the ones available in some public hospitals, offer continuity of care by a known midwife throughout pregnancy, birth, and the postnatal period.

 

Shared Care:

  • Shared care with a GP in the context of maternity care refers to a collaborative arrangement where the care of a pregnant woman is divided between her general practitioner (GP) and a hospital. This model allows the woman to see her GP for some prenatal appointments and the hospital’s maternity team for others, including the birth and immediate postnatal care.
  • Shared care with an endorsed midwife. There are a growing number of endorsed midwives offering a shared care arrangement with public hospitals. In this model, you see the endorsed midwife antenatally and prenatally but birth in a public hospital with the staff midwives,

 

*An endorsed midwife in Australia is a midwife with additional qualifications to prescribe medications and order diagnostic tests. To achieve this status, a midwife must complete extra education in pharmacology and diagnostics.

Each option has different considerations regarding the level of medical intervention, the environment, the professionals involved, and the cost. It’s essential for expectant parents to research and consider what aligns best with their health needs, personal preferences, and values when deciding on a birth option.

Mistake #2: Ignoring Your Birth Plan Preferences

 

Neglecting to consider how a provider aligns with your birth plan can lead to a mismatch in care and expectations. It’s important to choose a provider who respects and supports your birthing preferences.

Aligning Provider Expertise with Your Plan

Discuss your birth plan in detail with potential providers to ensure they can meet your needs. Whether you desire a natural birth, water birth, or require a cesarean section, the provider should be supportive of your choices.

Flexibility and Birth Outcome Success Rates

A provider’s flexibility and willingness to accommodate your birth plan can significantly affect the outcome. Choose someone who is adaptable and has a proven track record of successful births aligned with your preferences.

Ask them about their preferences around different interventions and recommendations. Obstetricians have their preferences around birth and so do midwives. Midwives have very different ideas about when women should get in the bath/pool if they are water birthing.

It is important to know how rigid your care provider is with their preferences.

Consider the provider’s history with any specific needs you might have such as a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC), or things that might arise like gestational diabetes, breech, Group B Strep, post dates preganacy

 

Mistake #3: Overlooking Hospital Culture

 

The hospital where your provider practices can greatly influence your birth experience. Researching and understanding the policies, practices, and culture of the hospital is crucial.

Understanding Hospital Practices and Policies

Hospitals vary in their approach to childbirth, from the availability of natural birth options to the use of interventions like inductions and epidurals. Ensure the hospital’s practices align with your birth plan and preferences.

How Hospital Culture Affects Your Birth Experience

The culture within the hospital, including the attitudes of staff towards birth, can impact your experience. A supportive, patient-centered environment contributes to a more positive and empowering birth experience. And postnatal period.

Mistake #4: Ignoring Your Instincts 

 

The personal connection and comfort level with your birth care provider play a significant role in your childbirth experience. Feeling at ease to ask questions, express concerns, and receive supportive care is paramount.

The Importance of Trust and Comfort

A strong, trusting relationship with your provider can alleviate anxiety and contribute to a more positive birth experience. Ensure you feel comfortable communicating openly and that your provider listens and responds to your needs.

How Compatibility Influences Birth Outcomes

Compatibility with your provider can influence your stress levels, decision-making, and overall satisfaction with the birth experience. Choose a provider whose personality, communication style, and approach to care align with your preferences.

Your gut will tell you if you feel at ease with your care provider so don’t ignore it.

Mistake #5: Not Researching Postpartum Support  Provided

 

Postpartum care is an essential aspect of the childbirth experience, yet it’s often overlooked when choosing a provider.

 

Importance of Postpartum Support

 

Adequate postpartum support can make a significant difference in your recovery and your breastfeeding journey.

Getting the right support and avoiding the cascade of interventions that can occur after birth and disrupt breastfeeding is so important.

 

Questions to Ask About Postnatal Care

 

Ask about the qualifications of the postnatal ward staff. Not all will be midwives and not all will have extensive breastfeeding training.

 

Inquire about the availability of postpartum visits, lactation support, and mental health services to ensure comprehensive care after the birth.

 

Choosing the Right Birth Care Provider

 

Making an informed decision requires thorough research, clear communication, and reflection on your personal needs and preferences. Ask potential providers about their experience, approach to childbirth, and how they handle unexpected situations.

 

Some Simple Questions to Ask Potential Providers

  • What is your experience with my preferred type of birth?
  • How do you handle complications or emergencies?
  • Can you support my birth plan and preferences?

**If you would like my 12 Questions to ask your OB on the first appointment sheet then sign up to the Birth Savvy Community.

 

Making an Informed Decision

After gathering information, reflect on which provider aligns best with your values, needs, and birth plan. The right provider will respect your choices, communicate effectively, and have a positive track record of very happy clients.

Avoiding the five biggest mistakes when choosing a birth care provider can significantly impact your childbirth experience. By researching, asking the right questions, and ensuring compatibility and comfort, you can select a provider who will support and enhance your journey to parenthood.

Your provider probably won’t remember your birth in years to come but you always will.

This is too important to leave to chance.

If you need more help understand your options and to get the birth you want you can come along to one of my workshops or have a private consultation with me.

 

 

birth care provider options

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