Best People to Include On Your Birth Team
It’s happening. It’s here. Your water just broke.
The moments that follow are what you have been planning for the last 40 weeks. You’ve packed, you’ve prepped. The nursery is beyond Pinterest-worthy. You are about to bring life into this world, and—PAUSE. Hold the phone. You just realized you have no idea who is on your birth team, except for the OBGYN you’ve seen sporadically throughout your pregnancy.
Cue a panicked Michael Scott–style “Everybody stay calm, what’s the procedure?!”
Holy freaking mother of shirt balls.
Do not let this be you!
A birth (and postpartum) plan goes beyond delivering a baby, be it via cesarean or vaginal delivery.
A strong birth plan starts with assembling a solid birth TEAM.
Yes, a TEAM.
A tribe by your side who fully grasps the concept that birth, like nature, requires no help, just no interference.
But, who? I mean, besides my OB?
Your birth team includes both your clinical team and your nonclinical support people. Your clinical team might include medical doctors, midwives, medical residents, medical students, anesthesiologists, nurses, physician’s assistants, and birth assistants, to name a few. Part of the decision about who is on your team is made when you pick a birth location—all the more reason to carefully consider location. Some of these people, like your medical doctor or midwife, you will get to select and meet with beforehand. Some of them you won’t meet until you are in labor, such as hospital or birth center staff like nurses, anesthesiologists, or birth assistants.
The list of birth professionals below are for the expecting mama who is choosing a birthing center or home birth as her delivery setting. For mothers considering a hospital birth, this list can still be useful when selecting a clinical and non-clinical support team. The ultimate decision is, of course, up to Mom and her partner, and every birthing situation is different.
However, an informed decision comes from knowing all your options.
Birth professionals to consider for your birth team
Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)
Midwives who are a part of the American College of Nurse-Midwives practice the midwifery model of care. The philosophy of this organization is that childbirth is a normal, physiological occurrence, and that a midwife only needs to intervene when necessary or if medically indicated. Many women choose midwives because they want a more personalized approach to birth.
A doula is someone trained to support a woman through labor, sort of like a birth coach. The goal of a doula is to help women and their families achieve the childbirth experiences they envision. According to DONA International (a doula organization), doulas are trained, experienced professionals who provide continuous emotional, physical, and informational support to mothers before, during, and after childbirth. Doulas view their role as nurturing and protecting a woman’s memory of the birth experience.
Doctor of Chiropractic
Pregnancy-specialized doctors of chiropractic are trained to work with the pregnant mother by performing chiropractic adjustments, a gentle and effective means of restoring proper pelvic balance and function. With the overabundant levels of relaxin coursing through a woman’s body during labor, it is common for the pelvis to get out of alignment. This is less than ideal. Women who have undergone chiropractic adjustments during their pregnancy, and more so during labor, report that their labors are easier and less stressful on their bodies.
A dream birth starts with assembling a birth dream team!
Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)
As clinical experts in the management of breastfeeding and human lactation, certified lactation consultants are trained to counsel mothers and families on initiation, exclusivity, and duration of breastfeeding, and to assist amid any difficulties or high-risk situations. IBCLCs are sensitive to and support the needs of mothers, infants, children, and various family structures in working toward breastfeeding goals.
Similar to a birth doula, a postpartum doula is someone who provides physical, emotional, and informational support to a woman and her family during the postpartum period (which extends beyond the traditional 6-week mark). They do more than just run the household during mother’s recovery. These professionals understand that new parents may not have a full understand- ing of what a normal postpartum period looks like, and therefore fill the gaps in education, competence, and family cohesion by providing individualized care and support to the mother, partner, and baby.
Chances are you’ve already met the doctor who will attend your birth, if you are opting for the hospital route. However, if you go to a large practice or your usual provider is not available, you may be meeting this person for the first time on your birthing day. Your attending doctor will oversee your care during your delivery and may be present from the time you start labor, or they may not arrive until you are ready to give birth.
If you envision yourself giving birth in a hospital… GREAT! Know your options.
If you envision yourself giving birth in a birthing center... GREAT! Know your options.
If you envision yourself giving birth at home… GREAT! Know your options.
YOU. HAVE. OPTIONS.
Never let anyone make you think otherwise.