Tips to Help You Choose An Aligned Prenatal Care Team

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When I first learned I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to find a prenatal care provider but with no established relationship with any midwives or doctors – I felt lost.   

 

I found myself seeking input from friends, family members, and peers. Thankfully, many of them had children or were currently pregnant. 

 

One of them who was pregnant at the time told me she hated her first experience with an OB team that catered to a high-volume of women. 

 

During her time in the establishment:

  • She felt the staff were cold and rushed.
  • She didn’t believe she would get the personalized attention she wanted from this atmosphere.
  • The experience made her cry; admittedly, she was already emotional -but many of us are when we are pregnant. 

 

She had to make a choice to stay with this team or to make a change. You have a choice too.

 

 

Abandon the hierarchy mindset

Sometimes, women view their relationship with their prenatal healthcare providers as a hierarchy. There are many reasons why this happens; it could be because of a lack of experience with pregnancy, respect for authority figures, or any number of reasons.

 

Initially, you may not see these beliefs as a cause for alarm but what if women are putting themselves at the bottom of the hierarchy?  What if this mindset is not empowering to women?

 

You may be thinking that doesn’t happen but it does.

 

Want proof?

 

Women say things like this:

  • “My provider made me…”
  • “I had to do…”
  • “I wasn’t given the option to…”

 

Unfortunately, these statements are very telling because empowered women understand that doctors aren’t supposed to make you do anything and you are the ultimate decision-maker. 

 

You are not above or beneath your prenatal provider.

 

Now…

 

Before you run off and think that I’m saying you should act as your own medical provider (that’s not what I’m saying). I’m saying that you should be part of the decision-making process when it involves you and your unborn child; the best way to ensure that this happens is to find an aligned prenatal care provider who can support you throughout your pregnancy journey.

 

 

What is an aligned pregnancy care provider?

A single person or a team of prenatal healthcare providers that understands your pregnancy and birth goals and are willing to support you and educate you about your choices at every stage of your journey. 

 

 

Why finding an aligned team of providers matter

It may sound cliche but pregnancy and birth can be unpredictable.  Having a prenatal care team that you trust to treat you with respect and honor your wishes can be the comfort you need when/if things don’t go to plan.

 

Imagine you’ve decided you want an unmedicated birth or a VBAC birth but for medical reasons, that decision is being challenged. 

 

Instead of having someone tell you what you have to do wouldn’t you prefer to have a provider who explains the situation, provides you with their best recommendation based on their knowledge of the subject, and welcomes questions on the matter?

 

Of course, medical emergencies happen but that should never change whether or not you are treated with respect, aligned prenatal care providers understand this.

 

 

How to find the best prenatal care provider for you

Finding a prenatal care provider that doesn’t find it to be an inconvenience to educate you on your level and respects your role in the decision-making during pregnancy and birth happens easily for some people, others have to go through a tedious process of filtering out prenatal care providers who can’t support them how they need to be supported.

 

Think about the type of care provider you are seeking. There are options.

  • A team of doctors at an OBGYN establishment that monitors you throughout your pregnancy and assists with your birth in a hospital.
  • A team of midwives and nurses in a birth center setting *often overseen by a board-certified physician.
  • A midwife to assist with a home birth. Note that in some States this option is not available.

 

Resources:

 

 

Here are some things to think about:

Think about your personal beliefs and wants.

Do you want to have certain pain medications available?

Are you hoping for an intervention-free birth?

Do you feel uncomfortable with a male medical provider?

 

Think about what you already know about your health risks.

Some health complications require a specialized team of providers.

 

Ask questions to friends and family for recommendations

Did they love their experience?

Would they recommend the provider they used?

 

Interview your nurses, midwife, or doctor

At your first appointment, take the time to observe and ask lots of questions.

Share your thoughts, fears, and concerns honestly. Then, listen to how the medical provider responds.

Is the response educational?

Is there a desire to ease your concerns?

Is there an atmosphere of professionalism and mutual respect?

 

Here are some things you can do to ensure you have an aligned prenatal care professional:

Ask friends and family for recommendations.

Interview your provider about their history and birth philosophy.

Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions.

Leave a provider if you don’t feel comfortable, heard, or respected.

 

 

 

Questions to ask yourself about your current or future prenatal care provider

This is your pregnancy journey and you are in the vehicle right now but before you start your engine, please make sure you have a prenatal care team that you want in the front seat with you the entire journey.

 

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

1. Do I feel supported, respected, and listened to by my provider(s)?

2. Do I trust the prenatal team I surrounded myself with?

3. Do I have access to support and assistance when I need it?

4. Do I feel like an equal member of the decision-making processes?

5. Do I feel comfortable discussing symptoms, obstacles, testing, and personal details that impact my pregnancy and overall health?

6. What response did I receive when I shared my birth desires with my doctor?

7. Are there reasons to believe the care team I have isn’t able to offer the type of care I want?

 

 

What does a positive prenatal care arrangement look like?

A positive care arrangement is one in which you are always part of the decision-making process because even though you may not have the same amount of medical knowledge, it’s your body and your baby.

 

An aligned relationship with your prenatal care team isn’t about you dictating the type of birth you desire without listening to possible obstacles.

 

  • It’s having you and your provider coming to an understanding of your goals and having an open dialogue about how he/she can best support you and your unborn child.

 

  • It’s about giving respect and receiving respect because both parties should just want what is best for you and your child.

 

  • It’s building trust so that if your plans need to change for medical and safety reasons you aren’t left feeling slighted.

 

This is your pregnancy journey and you are in the vehicle right now but before you start your engine, please make sure you have a prenatal care team that you want in the front seat with you the entire journey.

 

The mom from the beginning story could have stayed with the establishment and hoped it got better, but she didn’t. 

  • She found a different medical team and she was much happier.
  • It was a small center, that offered one-on-one dedicated time for meeting and talking prior to an examination.
  • The team helped her create a birth plan, offered a facility tour, and provided a list of classes that she could attend to get more information and meet other pregnant moms.

 

It was a much better fit for her. She even recommended their services to me. That’s what happy people do.

 

 

Basically…make sure you know (to the best of your ability) if your care provider is able to serve you respectfully and thoughtfully.

 

To make this process easier, I advocate for completing a birth plan early than most people. Why? Completing a birth plan requires that you ask yourself the hard questions about your birth preferences and make it possible for you to ask meaningful questions. If you want support creating your birth plan check out Birth Plan From Scratch.

 

 

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Tiffany Green, B.A, B.S, Master of Family Life and Youth Development

Hi, I'm Tiffany! I'm a newborn screening chemist turned entrepreneur. I help pregnant women and new moms redefine motherhood in a way that is useful and exciting. Here we focus on eliminating chaos at home, crushing overwhelm at every stage of motherhood (including pregnancy), and creating space for our own well-being while being the rock that our families need us to be. My goal is to inspire you to be a Damn Good Mom without giving up on your dreams because motherhood is an opportunity to live more inspired. How do I know? Without my baby, this platform wouldn't exist. What will you create? Hug the little people who will keep you motivated.

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