Doctors, Midwives and Doulas

The large majority of the pregnant women reading this will have their babies in hospitals attended by obstetricians. However, for most women there are other options which are equally safe and may address your personal needs and philosophy.

Several different types of health care clinicians attend births. However, remember two things when you go looking for the right “accoucheur” (Glossary). 1) Is the person qualified, experienced, and also connected to a health care system which can meet all your needs? 2) Can you place your trust in this person?

Parents, probably by instinct, are the most protective individuals in a society. Female animals protecting their young are some of the most formidable creatures on the planet. This primeval instinct in humans can produce a lot of anxiety. And thus, a good part of parenthood is anxiety. It really doesn’t matter whether your child is a 7-week old embryo, a two-year-old too close to the street, or a 16-year-old with a new driver’s license. Parental anxiety is now a fact of your life.

When you’re pregnant, much of this anxiety can be addressed by selecting a doctor or midwife whom you like, trust, and know to be qualified. If the going gets tough in pregnancy, much will come down to how much you trust your midwife or doctor. Trust is one of those emotions that strikes close to the heart. Any lack of it in your doctor or midwife during pregnancy can produce quite a lot of anxiety.

Most doctors and midwives, by the very fact that they chose this career, are people who are well-trained, trustworthy, and eager to provide excellent care for you. But what if they fall short of your expectations?……Demand more of them…..learn all you can; ask questions when you have them; and request more time if you feel your appointments are rushed. In a busy obstetrical practice, there is often the feeling of being quickly herded through “the routine”. When you get this feeling (or maybe well before that time), start asking some questions. Here’s a list of questions which any health care consumer is entitled to ask:

  • How many births have you personally attended?
  • What professional school(s) did you attend and when?
  • Are you certified by any professional organization(s)? Which one(s)?
  • Are you licensed in this state?
  • Has your license ever been suspended or revoked for any reason?
  • Has the licensing board or any professional organization ever reprimanded
  • Who are your associates, and what is the chance they will be involved in
    my care?
  • If I need high-risk medical services, who will provide them?
  • If my baby is premature, or needs high-risk services, who will provide
    this care?

How does one find a doctor or midwife to care for them? Most of the time you can get a satisfactory “referral” from a friend or family member who was cared for by a certain midwife or doctor…..but not always……”different strokes for different folks”. Your friends and relatives have their preferences and biases; you have yours. Their experience with any one clinician may have been colored by any number of factors which the two of you may not share. And then, there’s the phenomenon of the “personality clash”. If you completely clash with your doctor or midwife, it’s probably best for both if you find someone else. However, especially in small communities, this is not always an option.