7 Tips for Finding a Natural Childbirth Friendly Practitioner

Is your doctor or midwife natural childbirth friendly?

Woman and doctor talking about childbirth
Photo © Steve Debenport/Getty Images

Natural childbirth is not for everyone, but for those who want to have a natural or unmedicated childbirth experience, your biggest advocate will be your doctor or midwife. While you would think that your choice of practitioner shouldn't matter when it comes to how you labor, you would be mistaken. Here are some ways to tell if your midwife or doctor is natural childbirth friendly.

1. Support for Natural Childbirth

Most doctors do not have the ability to sit by your side for the entire labor and delivery.

They will know that you need extra support to cope with labor. They can advise you on how to best get that support including getting your family and friends prepared for labor and birth, what the nursing staff is like at your place of birth and how much support you can expect from them during your labor, and information on hiring a doula to support your birth plan.

2. Offers Good Advice

A practitioner who is experienced in natural childbirth will also have good advice for helping you to obtain your goal. This might include a referral to a natural childbirth class, a good book to read about natural childbirth, stories from births that they have attended, etc. 

3. Experience 

Your practitioner should have experience in attending natural births, which are different from medicated births in many subtle ways. A practitioner who has attended unmedicated births will understand the needs of the laboring woman who is unmedicated.

This is not to say that if your doctor or midwife has not had the opportunity to attend births where the mother is unmedicated that they can't, they just will be learning alongside of you. 

4. Hospital Policies

Does your doctor or midwife recommend certain practices at the hospital that would benefit you in having a natural childbirth?

This could something as simple as the freedom to move around in labor and intermittent monitoring of your baby in labor. Staying home as long as possible is also a good recommendation for mothers who are opting to forgo medication.` Your doctor or midwife can help you figure out which of these policies will be helpful and which ones you may need to see what your options are for support.

5. Advocate Not Allow

Your doctor should be your advocate for your choices, not simply tolerate your choice of natural childbirth. If they laugh or try to talk you out of it, this is may not the best choice of practitioner for you. It is worthy of a discussion, because sometimes the laughter or trying to talk you out of it is about their own insecurities about being able to help you. After a discussion, you may decide that they are willing to help learn what it would take and you may decide to stay or find a new practitioner.

6. Recommendations from Others 

Does your doctor or midwife come recommended from other women who have had natural childbirth?

Ask moms you meet in mothering groups, local online forums, childbirth classes, and other parenting classes. Some people also say that asking hospital nurses while touring birth facilities is a great idea. Another idea is to talk to childbirth educators and doulas about where their clients who want a natural childbirth go for care. These recommendations come from people who see the doctors and midwives in action on a daily basis.

7. Does Your Practitioner Listen to You?

There is not one path to an unmedicated birth. Does your practitioner listen to you about how you want to go about getting there? Are they open and receptive to listening to you and your ideas? It's the partnership with your practitioner that can be so very helpful. It is also important to remember that a conversation is a two way street. While they may listen to you, you should also listen to their ideas in the conversation. This is where you will find compromise that might be the perfect idea for you.

What to Do If Your Practitioner is Not Natural Childbirth Friendly

You may find through the course of your prenatal care that you and your practitioner are a mismatch in terms of your ideas about labor. This doesn't make you a bad patient, nor does it make them a bad practitioner, simply not a good combination. This information may cause you to decide to leave the current practice and find a new doctor or midwife. 

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