Getting to Know Your Birthing Team
During our March interview with J’Vanay Fabian from MyLÚA Health, she highlighted that there are multiple people who influence a person’s pregnancy and birthing experience. From family members to the delivering OB/GYN, bringing new life into the world is a group effort.
In honor of Black Maternal Health Week (April 11 -17), we’re taking a closer look at the roles different providers play during a person’s birthing process. By understanding each birthing team member’s goals and purpose, you are better positioned to advocate for your needs and have a healthier birthing experience.
The Birthing Team
Friends and Family – Throughout pregnancy, your friends and family may offer their advice, support, and maybe even their opinions on your birthing experience. While listening to different perspectives can be informative, it’s important to remember that each person’s birthing experience is unique. Exercise discernment when interpreting and deciding how to apply a loved one’s feedback. What worked for or happened to one person won’t necessarily be your experience.
Doctor – During your pregnancy, you will likely see an obstetrician-gynecologist (OB/GYN) periodically to gauge your and the baby’s progress. Typically OB/GYN physicians are involved in your prenatal care and the birth of your baby. Family medicine physicians are also trained to deliver babies. Throughout the birthing process, your doctor will receive updates from the labor and delivery nurse (discussed below) and oversee the delivery when it’s time to meet your little one.
Midwife – Midwives are commonly involved in low-risk, uncomplicated pregnancies, and births outside of a hospital setting. Your health and pregnancy risk factors influence whether a midwife is the best option for your birthing team. Midwives are trained in obstetrics and gynecology in midwifery school. Their goal is to deliver your baby safely.
Anesthesiologist – If you decide to have an epidural to manage the pain during labor and delivery, an anesthesiologist will deliver it by administering a medication that numbs the nerves responsible for contraction pain. Consequently, you feel more relaxed while your lower body is numb. If you have a Cesarean section, an Anesthesiologist places a spinal which is used to manage your pain to assist with the birth of your baby.
Labor and Delivery Nurse – If you opt to give birth in a hospital, you’ll be assigned a labor and delivery nurse upon check-in. They will be with you the most throughout the process. The labor and delivery nurse the liaises between you and your doctor or midwife to keep them abreast of your progress and needs. Their goal is to monitor your birthing process and provide your OB/GYN or midwife with the updates they need to know when it’s time to deliver your baby.
Baby Nurse – The baby nurse assumes care for your baby as soon as they enter the world. They assess your baby’s health and assist you with newborn care.
Doula – Doulas are professional non-medical assistants who provide support throughout your pregnancy, delivery, or during your postpartum experience. Doulas support you emotionally and physically during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum. Doula’s also provide education about the different stages of pregnancy. During birthing, they will attend to your needs while advocating for your comfort and safety.
Having the right people by your side throughout your pregnancy and birthing process influences your physical and mental health. By understanding how each member of the birthing team contributes to your baby’s healthy delivery, you can advocate for yourself and your child.