Find a doctor you’re comfortable with
Do not, I repeat, do not settle for someone you aren’t comfortable with unless you absolutely must. Just because you started going to one does not mean you can’t find a different doctor. Of course, if you switch too late in pregnancy it’s harder to find someone who will take you on, but probably not impossible.
When I got pregnant for the first time, I thought I wanted a woman doctor. I tried one and she was awful. So I switched to a grandfatherly, experienced, laid-back gentleman who had delivered a zillion babies. He was the best. When I moved to Shreveport, that’s what I looked for again. I asked around until I heard of someone that sounded like a good fit. As it turned out, he was.
My OB’s whom I’ve been certain have a personal relationship with Christ have been the best experiences. I feel more comfortable with someone who believes in the power of prayer, will hopefully be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, and exhibits the grace of Christ in his life.
My sister and other friends have used midwives for low risk pregnancies. Honestly, the testimonies of moms who have gone this route lead me to believe that their prenatal care has been far superior to mine. However, there are no midwives in our area that I know of, even if my husband would go for it–which is unlikely! 🙂
Find a doctor your husband is comfortable with
Even if your husband doesn’t go with you to every appointment, I believe it’s a good idea for him to at least meet the doctor near the beginning of the pregnancy. Your husband will more than likely be with you during the birth and he’s the one who will probably make decisions if you should become incapacitated (an unlikely scenario, but worth considering). If your husband acts as your support and coach, he will be interacting with the medical staff a great deal. Things run much more smoothly if he has a good relationship with your OB–and especially if he respects him (or her). It will be stressful for you if your husband and the doctor have a personality clash or if they have a tense relationship for some other reason. That said, as your advocate, your husband may at some time have to be more confrontational–but if he and the doctor mutually respect each other, conflicts work out much better.
Remember, the doctor works for you
I have great respect for medical professionals who are well-trained to help people and save lives, and I’ve interacted with a number of wonderful doctors. Nevertheless, I’m a bit leery of the medical profession because I’ve seen a lot of playing God among doctors. A nurse told me recently that she was told point blank in nursing school that a great deal of the time doctors are just guessing at diagnosis. So be informed, do your own research, and remember that the doctor is working for you in this natural process of birth. Again, I’m grateful for doctors who save so many lives, but in low risk situations, understand your options and stand your ground. In short, don’t be bullied by a doctor or medical staff.
A personal example: Unless my baby is in distress, I won’t be induced. Do I get pressure? Of course. But having done the research, I believe that for me—barring a medical emergency—baby should come when he or she is good and ready. Having my third birth at just 2 hours of active labor and the fourth at around 3 hours solidifies my view even more. I believe it’s easier when nature takes its course, and I’m willing to take a stand for this. Your non-negotiables might be different–this certainly isn’t a statement against those who feel it’s necessary to induce–But I’m just saying that when you have a personal issue about which you feel strongly, don’t feel pressured to do something against your better judgment.
Use a birth environment you’re comfortable with
If you’re having a hospital birth, find a doctor who delivers in a hospital with a good reputation. My doctor for babies 2 and 3 mainly delivered at a huge, usually overcrowded hospital that frankly has a reputation for inadequate care. (Blunt version: We heard horror stories.) However, he personally has a stellar record and was willing and able to deliver at the small Catholic hospital down the street. That’s what we chose, and the care has been personal and excellent.
Of course there are other options too: birth centers and home. While there aren’t any options locally that I know of, I have friends and family members who have had babies at home and at qualified birth centers in other places with great results. Seek the guidance of God and determine with your husband where you should deliver. My mom friend Jenny (who has birthed 8 babies at home) reminded me, “Jesus is in the hospital too.” My hospital births have been great, but I attribute it mainly to choosing good ones and being informed and proactive. And I believe that God has led us to the places where he wanted me to give birth.