Doctors may seem like the “obvious” choice for mamas as they become pregs. Maybe that’s because 90% of all preggos are attended to by a doc. Doctors are highly trained with specific expertise, which can really come in handy if you are have a high risk pregnancy or have other special needs or circumstances.
The traditional Doctor experience is usually very different than the Midwife experience. There’s no one “right provider” who’s right for all women. But there is someone who’s right for you. Really, it all comes down to what you value, what you want and how you want to go about it all.
Different kinds of Doctors deliver babies:
Family Practice Doctors- focus on whole family care, which can include pregnancy & birth. Family practice doctors aren’t surgeons and do not perform C-Sections (if needed). Not all Family Practice docs deliver babies.
OB/GYNs- focus on pregnancy, birth & women’s reproductive organs. They are highly-trained surgeons. Most women use OB/GYNs.
Perinatologists- focus on the most high-risk pregnancies & are the highest-trained physicians within the OB/GYN community. They only focus on unborn babies (don’t do routine womanly check-ups like pap smears, etc.). They’re also called Maternal-Fetal Specialists.
What’s it like to use a doctor for my birth?
- Sometimes you’ll hear that doctors approach birth from a “medical model”. That means, generally speaking, doctors are trained to manage or control birth by using technology. Medical school trains doctors to look for, find & take action against problems or potential problems by applying medical procedures. In the birthing world, these procedures are often called interventions. In comparison, midwives, generally speaking, consider birth a normal physiological process that unfolds naturally on its own, which at times requires intervention when a medical need exists. This is why the traditional doctor experience is usually very different than the midwife experience. Doctors & Midwives traditionally approach birth from 2 fundamentally different perspectives. By asking yourself, your spouse & (download our Make an Ask of Your Pregnant Self Question Guide- premium members) prospective providers good questions, you’ll learn which provider is best for you.
- OB/GYNs are crazy busy because they provide a ton of services to women that are “all over the map”. For example, it’s not uncommon for an OB/GYN to see a woman having a “vagina problem”, run to do a C-Section, back to the office for an STD appointment, followed by an infertility appointment, meet you for your pregnancy appointment, then one of their mamas goes into labor at 2 am. No wonder their pregnancy appointments are shorter than midwives (on average OB appointments are 15 mins, vs 60 mins for a midwife- in general midwives don’t have as many demands). And many have families of their own who also need their lovin’!
- Doctors working in hospitals follow hospital protocol (so do midwives working in hospitals). Hospital protocol is a fancy way of saying “guidelines” or “rules” that help a hospital manage the demands & risks of unpredictable & high risk situations.
Because hospital protocol is designed to actively manage high-risk situations, the protocol also “spills over” to low-risk births in the hospital. That means interventions are commonly used to control the birth process as a standard way of doing things.
Specifically, that means life-saving interventions used for high-risk birth are also used in low-risk birth when there is no medical need of its use (baby and baby mama are not in any danger, but the procedure is done anyway). It’s very common.
It’s important you understand while your provider is your doctor, your doctor’s “provider” is the hospital. The hospital makes a lot of the rules, and they’ll want your doctor (or midwife if you’ve chosen a midwife for a hospital birth) & you to play by their rules. Even though those rules may not give you the flexibility & options you’ve researched & found to best support your needs.
It’s a great idea to have clarity how the protocol might affect you before all this goes down & that you’re ready to speak up (or stand your ground) if you’re not getting what you want or need. If you have no idea what you might need or might want, that’s why we’re here. We’ll help you figure it out & be confident.
The hospital is definitely the best place for some mamas. And not for others. And that’s what makes the world go round isn’t it? It’s important you figure out what YOU want. It matters! Even if you’re 99% sure you want a hospital birth, by spending just a little time looking at your options you’ll learn how to make your labor & birth inside the hospital wayyyyy better for you (things you can ask for, etc.).
**Interesting factoid we never knew: the U.S. is the only industrialized country in the world using highly trained surgeons to attend low-risk births. **
Some benefits moms like about Doctors
- They’re the highest & best trained for serious complications
- Feeling of stability knowing a doctor is there if needed
- Feeling of being in a hospital, since doctors and hospitals go hand in hand (most of the time)
Some things moms didn’t like about Doctors
- Their surgical training can mean they intervene before a clear medical need exists
- Few attend Home Births or Birthing Center Births
- Some women feel like they’re “herded” through pregnancy, labor & birth without personal care
- If “your doctor” can’t make the birth, care transfers to the OB on call
- Moms often thought their Doctor would get to know them, hold their hand, be by their side the entire labor & delivery. The reality is the Doctor doesn’t provide continuous support during labor, the nurses manage labor from their nursing station. The doctor is then called in at the last minute to catch the baby, then they leave to take care of other duties.
Let’s get real. All doctors are not created equal. Some doctors are absolutely incredible- they’re up on all the latest research, are ridiculously skilled at what they do & they take the time to connect & listen to you as a whole woman with thoughts, feelings, emotions, responsibilities, personality, intelligence (and let’s not forget sense of humor ) and don’t just treat you as if you’re one big uterus.
And some aren’t any of the above.
Some make decisions for you & your baby (without informing you) based on personal opinion & not scientific evidence. You find a great doctor by asking questions (see the Make An Ask of Your Pregnant Self link above). Is this really a surprise?
Every profession has a wide range of “quality” within their ranks. Doctors are no different. Some doctors would rather catch your baby than do anything else in the world. And some would rather be golfing than catching your baby.
You’re building a relationship with the person who’ll be there for you during one of the most important & intimate moments of your life. Do you know them at all? Do you even like them? Are they answering your questions or blowing you off?
We’re not talking about going on an overnight camping trip or becoming bff’s with your doc, we’re just talking about some good ole’ basic interaction & relations here.
Let’s be candid for a sec. If your doctor (or any other provider) doesn’t answer all your questions & concerns or makes you feel like you’re burdening them or their busy schedule, you’re with the wrong doctor.
There are amazing doctors who’ll take the time to ensure your concerns are addressed & help you feel encouraged & excited about your birth. You just need to find those awesome docs. It’s super important you understand that mama.
Because moms often say how their doctor gave ‘em the run around, and they felt like they were being a pain in the doctor’s butt, so they didn’t ask questions, then after the birth they had serious regrets for a bunch of different reasons. It happens all the time. Don’t be a mama with a regret. There’s no reason to be- that’s just r-i-d-i-c-u-l-o-u-s. This is one your greatest moments in life! This is YOUR birth. You hire the doctor to work for you (this goes for any provider). Expect your provider to give you the care you need.
No one talks about this stuff. This is the stuff that matters. This is what gets you better results, better outcomes & hands down helps you have a better birth. But don’t take our word for it, ask other moms.
It’s completely unacceptable for a provider to make a pregnant mom feel like a big pain in the rear because she’s trying to understand the whole pregnancy & birth thing. That’s some serious bull. Even if you’re far along & don’t feel like they’re working towards your goals…break up with them! It’s not necessarily too late to change providers.
Learn from one mom’s inside scoop & experience with both an Ob/Gyn & Midwife.
Traditional OB/GYN Care
- Technology is the asset
- Labor & Birth is dependent on technology
- Focus on actively Managing potential Complications resulting in Higher rates of Intervention
- Care is Standardized & Routine
- Doctor delivers baby
- Women are the asset
- Labor & Birth is a normal physiological process
- Focus on Prevention through Health & Wellness resulting in Lower rates of Interventions
- Care is Individualized & Personal
- Mother gives birth
*Personal Story- During our first pregnancy, we found our doctor by finding the doctor who was located the closest to our work/home & accepted our insurance. During an appointment, we asked a question about something like weight gain during pregnancy. Our doctor didn’t even look up to make eye contact, he simply said “It’s in the packet of info I gave you”, then jetted out the door. Sarah had that gut feeling, so fired him like Donald Trump. Then we found an A-M-A-Z-I-N-G doctor…was so worth it.
Mamas, learn from our mistake. That’s just not acceptable. Spend a wee little time dating your doctor (or midwife) & remember there’s no need to accept any BS shenanigans.
“A wise man learns by the mistakes of others, a fool by his own” Latin Proverb
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