Obstetrician, midwife or doula to support birth?

The choice is up to you, but one, or maybe more, of these three people could play a big role in bringing your little one into the world. Before the big day comes, you’ll need to know who they are and what role they might play in your baby’s birth plan.

Meet the OB

Some 8 out of 10 women choose an obstetrician — OB for short — to monitor their pregnancies and deliver their babies.

The OB is a medical doctor with years of special training and schooling in this field. Some family doctors provide prenatal care and deliver babies, too.

An OB will oversee the medical aspects of your pregnancy from beginning to end. Among many other things, they’ll:

The OB will manage your care with a support team that might include nurses, other doctors, and sometimes midwives. You may see different ones at different appointments. This allows you to get acquainted with the whole team and whoever might be on call on delivery day.

How to Find an OB

Start with the list of doctors covered on your insurance plan. Ask your friends and family doctor about good OB practices near you.

Meet the Midwife

In many cultures, midwives are the primary caregivers all through pregnancy and birth.

Along with their expertise, midwives bring a nurturing, emotionally oriented approach. They practice in private homes as well as hospitals, clinics, and birth centers. Many OB practices also have midwives on staff.

Like the OB, a midwife is there for you throughout your pregnancy. They’ll:

There are fewer traumas to the infant and mother in deliveries assisted by a midwife. There are typically fewer interventions during delivery such as fetal monitoring, episiotomy, and C-sections.

How to Find a Midwife

There are several main types in the U.S.:

Certified Nurse-Midwife: trained in both nursing and midwifery.

Certified Midwife: has similar training, but isn’t required to have a nursing degree.

Certified Professional Midwife : a skilled independent professional trained in many different settings.

Will My Insurance Cover a Midwife?

Many do, but not all. Check with your provider as soon as you decide the midwife is the way to go.

Meet the Doula

The term doula comes from a Greek word meaning “a woman who serves.” A doula takes the nurturing role that family and community used to play in the birth process.

The doula is at your side, along with your doctor or midwife. They bring a spirit of connection that includes your loved ones in the big event.

Studies show mothers who have a doula on site to give physical and emotional support may need less pain medication. Research shows a doula’s presence during labor and birth improves the outcome for both mom and baby.

What Do They Do?

A doula acts as a link between you and your medical care team. They’ll:

How to Find a Doula

Ask other mothers you know who may have used one. Check DONA International, which maintains a directory of certified doulas in your area.

Does Insurance Cover a Doula?

Some insurance companies offer coverage for doula services. Also, some agencies and hospitals offer programs that provide doula services at no — or only partial — cost to you. You also can hire a doula on your own.

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