How to Choose the Right Doctor or Midwife for Your Baby’s Birth

Marie here – today’s article is a guest’s post is by my friend Yael Quittner of A Mother’s Instinct in  New York city.  She is an experienced hypnobirthing instructor, hypnotherpist and ultrasound sonographer.  Today she will share with you a wonderful way to reflect and decide on the type of care you are looking for in labour.
The Brooklyn Brownstone or Central Park Penthouse?

What happens When We Fail to Secure the Appropriate Caregiver

When we discuss “what’s wrong with labor?”, or “why are so many women NOT having calm, comfortable birthing experiences?” the number-one answer on the list is “Failure to Secure the Proper Caregiver.” Let’s explore this a bit.

I have worked in the medical field for close to 25 years, having trained just before Desert Storm as an Army medic and Xray Specialist, and have continued my Medical Imaging career until the present.  I’ve had the honor of attending dozens of births in the three years I’ve been a doula, and I have to say that in the quarter century I’ve worked closely with doctors and midwives, I honestly wouldn’t need more than one hand to count the number of complete bumbling boobs I’ve met.  Malpractice being what it is in the States, there are truly very few horrible doctors out there.  Clearly, “failing to secure the proper caregiver” does not necessarily mean hiring someone incompetent, so what exactly do we mean?

Let me offer an example from the world of real estate, a subject about which I admittedly know next to nothing, but an example nonetheless to which everyone can relate, and which gets the point across quite nicely.

Since I did not grow up in New York, and didn’t even set foot in the state until my plane landed when I moved here 15 years ago, my ideas about housing in New York were limited by the field of view defined by my childhood television.  Not that it was a conscious thought, but in retrospect, I know that I envisioned the fancy people shopping up Manhattan along with Eva Gabor, and everybody else living in quaint brownstones with friendly neighbors like Luis and Maria and who shopped in Mr. Hooper’s store.

Having held the lifelong assumption that living a comfortable New York life equaled living in one of those quaint Brooklyn brownstones, the last thing I would have wanted to do upon arrival would have been to get out the latest Zagat’s list and hire The Top Rated NYC real estate agent, who just happens to specialize in penthouses overlooking Central Park West.  She’s a lovely person, mind you, and we hit it off over coffee, and she certainly does know her real estate, especially that relating to penthouses overlooking central park west.  She has heard of brownstones down there in Brooklyn, but clearly in her book, those penthouses are tops, and although brownstones are fine for others, she simply cannot fathom why she should bother herself with them when Central Park West just has so much to offer and penthouses truly tout a remarkable view.

Now, lest you misunderstand me, I have nothing against penthouses or Central Park West.  As a matter of fact, I have a brother-in-law whose apartment, while not exactly a penthouse, does in fact overlook the Museum of Natural History, and we have a blast visiting him.  The kids get a real kick out of the whole doorman thing, but the fact remains, I am just more a Brooklyn brownstone type of gal.  Plenty of pros and cons to each lifestyle, with nothing particularly bad to say about either, but when looking to move, you have to have a clear vision of what is it that you are looking for, and hire the real estate agent who is knowledgeable in that area in order to have a greater chance of getting what you want.

And, just as a real estate broker can be very successful and real nice to boot, yet be totally the wrong person to find you the right apartment, so too can an obstetrician be brilliant, well-published, in practice since your mother had babies, and yet not be the right one to help you achieve your vision for your birthing experience.

Now, getting back to birthing, I’d like to mention a good friend of mine, who moved to Brooklyn from Brazil.  Well, Brazil happens to have the highest Cesarean rate in the Western Hemisphere – around 93% in private hospitals –  so my friend had some pretty well ingrained ideas about childbirth.  Couple that with the fact that she trained as a medical doctor there, and it is not surprising that when she found out she was pregnant for the first time, she had her Brooklyn doctor make a note in her chart that she WANTS an episiotomy so as to avoid tearing.  She is a woman who knows exactly what her comfort level is, and while I don’t necessarily share her views, I applaud her for researching her options and choosing a doctor who would give her the birthing experience she wanted.  This is a woman who needed high-tech to feel comfortable, who was very proactive in assuring herself that she hired the right doc for the job, and actually did change practices when things were not going the way she wanted.  My friend, in the end, was thrilled with her Cesarean and her overall experience– she got exactly what she expected.

The last thing my Brazilian friend should do is hire a homebirth- or even a hospital-based- midwife.  Again, there is absolutely nothing “wrong” with any approach. I have another friend who wants to have her babies at home, and the last thing she wants or needs is to get out that Zagat’s and hire Manhattan’s top rated obstetrical surgeon.

I am not wrong for choosing a hospital-based midwife, my friend was not wrong for making choices that were right for her, and another woman would not be wrong for hiring that homebirth midwife.  What is “wrong” is hiring someone who does not share your vision of birth, and therefore will not be able to help you achieve that vision.  What is “wrong” is having a gut feeling that you’ve hired the wrong person and not being proactive enough to make a change.

You get what you pay for.  You pay for whom you hire.  It’s your baby.  Do you want to live in a penthouse overlooking Central Park or in a Brooklyn brownstone?

by Yael Quittner, New York

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