Building Your Birth Team

Updated: Aug 8, 2019

In life there are many things out of your control. The same holds true for birth. It can tend to full of never know what you're going to get. That being said, as an expectant mother, there are things in your control. One of the most critical things in your control is your birth team- or those individuals who will be working with and alongside you to bring your baby into this world. In my experience as a birth professional I find that most mothers underestimate their power in this arena and the difference having the right people at your birth can make. I've compiled a list of the most critical players of your birth team. This is not an all-inclusive list, but it will give you the essentials.

I've also included a 'gut check' guide of questions for each of the individuals of your birth team. I'm a firm believer in trusting your intuition, especially when it comes to birth. So I've included a few questions you can ask yourself about each member as you add or consider adding them to your team.

1. Your Care Provider- Your care provider is the medical professional, typically a doctor or midwife, who provides prenatal care for you during pregnancy and who will likely deliver your baby. This member of your birth team is arguably the most important to get right because ultimately if you're delivering in a hospital or birth center-they will have a significant influence on your birth experience.

The CareProvider 'Gut Check'

-Do I feel at ease with this individual?

-Do they make me feel respected and heard?

-Do they take time to explain procedures?

-Do they laugh at your birth plans/ goals or do they respectfully consider & engage with you about them?

-Do they make me feel like a person or just another patient?

-Do they lay out options for care when appropriate?

-Do they ask for your consent before conducting a procedure?

-Do I trust this individual?

2. Your Doula-Your doula is the non-medical birth professional who provides emotional, physical, and informational support for you during your pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum: your motherhood companion. Unlike your care provider, your doula will be with you every moment of your labor. Your doula will have a significant influence on your birth experience and memory.

The Doula 'Gut Check'

-Do I feel at ease with this individual?

-Do I feel comfortable being vulnerable with this individual?

-Do they make me feel respected and heard?

-Do they judge my birth plans/goals or do they respect them?

-Do they interact well with my birth partner?

-Do I trust this individual?

3. Chiropractor-Your chiropractor is a health professional who specializes in the alignment and placement of bones and joints. Although most times, you won't need a chiropractic adjustment during labor, you should be seeing a chiropractor throughout your pregnancy to promote comfort and health during your pregnancy and also to ensure your baby has a well adjusted pelvis to descend into during the birth. An aligned spine and pelvis and relaxed round ligaments will allow maximum room in the pelvis for your baby to flex and maneuver and a more smooth labor process for you.

The Chiropractor 'Gut Check'

-Does this individual make me feel respected and heard?

-Is this individual Webster Certified to work with pregnant mothers and infants?

-Do they take time to explain procedures?

-Do they make me feel like a person or just another patient?

-Are they willing and able to conduct an adjustment at my place of birth during labor if necessary?

-Are they willing and able to conduct a postpartum adjustment for you and your baby?

4. Birth Partner(s)- Your birth partner refers to any friends or family that you choose to have at your side for your labor and birth. In most cases your decision of a birth partner(s) will be the most difficult and emotionally charged of all the choices your make for your birth team. Let's face it, its a lot easier to find another doula or chiropractor than it is to tell your mother or your best friend that you don't want them at your birth. As women a lot of times I feel that we will go out of our way to please others and make them feel comfortable. As crazy as this sounds, as a doula during births I've seen mothers in the throws of labor more concerned with their in-laws in the waiting room or their queasy husbands than themselves. I've also seen labors stall until a birth partner leaves to get lunch or use the bathroom-then finally the mother feels relieved and comfortable, her body responds, labor progresses. Birth is not a time to be a people pleaser- this experience is all about you and your baby.

The Birth Partner 'Gut Check'

-Do I feel at ease with this person?

-Does this person in our routine interactions bring me joy or do they bring drama, stress, and make me feel irritable?

-Do I feel comfortable being vulnerable with this individual?

-Is this person judgmental and critical or understanding and supportive?

-Do they judge my birth plans/goals or do they support and respect them?

-Does this person crave and demand constant attention or will they respect that this birth is my own, special experience and be happy for me?

-Is this a person I can lean and depend on?

5. Lactation Consultant-if you are a mother planning to breastfeed your little one, your lactation consultant is a critical member of your birth team. Unfortunately, a lactation consultant is one of the most oft neglected birth team members. Most expectant mothers who plan to breastfeed don't even think about meeting with or asking for a lactation consultant referral before birth. I would highly recommend you at least ask your doula if they know of a skilled lactation consultant who can visit you and your baby and assess breastfeeding early in the postpartum period if you have any challenges.

The Lactation Consultant 'Gut Check'

-Do I feel at ease with this person?

-Do they make me feel respected and heard?

-Are they an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)?

-Do they dismiss my concerns or do they listen and take time to investigate them?

-Are they negative and rushed or are they encouraging and positive?

7. Other Possible Members of Your Team-Depending on your unique needs, preferences, or budget you may consider adding other professionals to your birth team ie; placenta encapsulator, massage therapist, acupuncturist, childbirth educator, birth photographer, etc. I didn't include a 'gut checklist' for these individuals because in reality your interactions with them will be limited during your birth and in the immediate postpartum.

Remember as the mother- you are the boss-you are the consumer. You have the right to change physicians, doulas, or chiropractors or change your mind last minute if you decide you don't want your mother in the birth room. Don't worry about hurting anyones feelings. The people you hire understand this is business and your disappointed loved ones and friends won't be disappointed long once they see your baby's adorable little face. Happy birthing!



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