It takes a village to raise a child, and that starts during delivery. Building a birth team is the process of choosing the people or types of people who will help you through delivery. Every person you choose to have in the room with you plays a role in helping you have a healthy and safe birth.
You’ve likely heard about OB/GYNs, but here’s the formal definition. An OB/GYN is a doctor whose specialty is obstetrics (the branch of medicine dedicated to childbirth and the care of women giving birth) and gynecology (the branch dedicated to the reproductive system).
Many women with low-risk pregnancies who plan to give birth in hospitals often choose OB/GYNs as their primary care providers during pregnancy, but when it comes time for delivery, they are safe in the hands of other providers like nurses or midwives. For women with high risk pregnancies, OB/GYNs are the recommended birth providers because they are the most well-equipped to deal with any complications and surgeries like C-sections.
If you’re considering giving birth at a birth center or other non-hospital setting and want an OB/GYN present, it’s important to note that OB/GYNs often serve as consultants at birth centers, but likely will not be present unless there are complications. Find out where your OB/GYN delivers as you create your birth plan.
Midwives are healthcare providers who offer comprehensive care to childbearing women during pregnancy, labor, and birth. Midwives are also trained to serve as primary care providers Midwives can provide much of the same care that an OB/GYN can.
Women with low-risk pregnancies who work with midwives often experience fewer medical interventions, and may deliver babies in a variety of settings, including hospitals, birthing centers, and homes.
One of the biggest differences between a midwife and an OB-GYN is a difference in philosophy — midwives view pregnancy and birth as natural life events rather than major medical events. If this philosophy rings true for you and your pregnancy is low risk, a midwife could be a great fit.
Birth doulas are labor coaches who help prepare you mentally and emotionally for delivery, and guide you through it. Doulas know about every facet of the labor process and can help you get a firm grasp on what will definitely happen, and what could.
Doulas can be useful for women who have had other pregnancies as well, because every pregnancy and delivery is different. It’s important to note that doulas are not doctors, and so may not be knowledgeable about a specific high-risk or complicated pregnancy. Postpartum doulas can also help you adjust to life with your new one and breastfeeding.
Think of your birth partner as your right hand man. This person could be a partner, parent, sibling, or friend, as long as they are a person who supports you and you feel you can trust. Delivery is intense, and someone who helps you work through stress and discomfort is an ideal match for delivery day.
You get to decide who joins you for the birth journey, so spend a little time thinking about who can help you prepare for delivery and join you for the process.