Updated: Nov 25, 2018
It takes a village...to prepare and recover from child birth! Pregnancy, labor and delivery, and the initial postpartum period can be the most challenging and vulnerable times of a woman's life. Women need to have the knowledge to make informed decisions, have resources to stay healthy and pain free, and feel empowered in their journey. Often, women know they need support, but do not know what they need. Or they know what they need, but don’t know who to turn to....
Enter this blog post.
I always encourage my pregnant clients to build their birth team—a group of family members, friends, birth professionals, and healthcare professionals to support their pregnancy, labor and delivery, and the early postpartum period. If you are pregnant, it's time to start building your birth team. The birth and health professionals below are vital members of your birth team and poised to help you be the healthiest version of yourself through pregnancy.
OB-GYN or midwife—
This is the most obvious one. Your OB-GYN or midwife will help you monitor your health and your baby’s health throughout your pregnancy. They will perform prenatal exams and order tests, watch your physical and psychological health, help you make your birth plans, educate and counsel you about pregnancy, childbirth, and newborn care, give you practical support during labor, admit and discharge you from the hospital, and last but certainly not least—deliver your babies.
Women’s Health or Pelvic Physical Therapist—
This is the second most obvious one to me! Women’s Health and Pelvic Physical Therapists are two names for a Physical Therapist who has done specialized training in the pelvis, core, and issues specific to women. Some, (like me) choose to specialize further and complete specialized training in obstetrics.
A women’s health PT can help you prepare your body for birth and reduce the risk of perineal tearing and c-section. Your PT will teach you how to connect with and train your pelvic floor (your kegel muscles), pelvis, and abdominal muscles to work optimally to make the delivery process easier, encourage “uterine balancing” or aligning the uterus for optimal fetal positioning, and help you find positions specific to your body for each stage of labor to encourage the pelvis to do what it should to let baby come out easier.
A Women’s Health PT can help you find the right exercise to allow you to continue or start to work out during pregnancy to prevent complications, manage weight gain, and prevent or control gestational diabetes or high blood pressure. If you are experiencing pain in your pelvis, low back, shoulder, foot, knee, or any body part during pregnancy, a women's health PT can help you resolve these issues using hands-on techniques, movement, and exercises.
A women’s health PT is also a vital member of the early postpartum period by helping you you restore normal movement, resolve pain, and resolve incontinence after the throes of pregnancy, labor, and delivery.
Chiropractors who have done specialized training and become certified in Webster technique are a great addition to your birth team. The Webster technique prepares the pelvis for an easier pregnancy and birth by creating a state of balance in pelvic bony structures, muscles and ligaments. The chiropractor will use hands on techniques to remove torsion of the ligaments that support the uterus which will potentially reduce abnormal tension to the woman’s uterus.
Birth doulas are like a coach for labor and delivery. A birth doula is a non-judgmental advocate who provides physical, emotional, and educational support to a mother before, during, and after childbirth. The role of a doula is not to replace the mother’s partner, but rather to complement him or her. A doula will help you devise a birth plan, implement that birth plan, and help you advocate for you if things get crazy during the birthing process. Immediately after birth, a doula can assist with basic breastfeeding and act as a bridge between childbirth and parenthood by answering questions, providing support and resources in the initial postpartum period.
A child birth educator educates you about childbirth (sorry, couldn’t help myself!) But really, a childbirth educator is a teacher who—provides information about the physiology, psychology, and sociology of pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum, and early parenthood. These teachers inform pregnant women and their support persons to cope with pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum, and early parenthood and encourages communication between the pregnant woman and other members of her health care circle. A childbirth educator completes specific training for certification and classes vary based on the educator’s training. Common childbirth education classes/methods are Hypnobirthing, Hypnobabies, Lamaze, and the Bradley Method.
This professional is one that you’re going to want in your back pocket for after giving birth. If you plan to breastfeed, plan consult with a Lactation Consultant. Lactation consultants excellent resources for any struggles with breastfeeding. If you have sore nipples, challenges with latch, engorgement, baby who is not gaining, or concerns about milk supply, you’ll want to have a number ready for a local lactation consultant. I like to tell my moms to compile a list of resources and professionals to call after childbirth (your postpartum list!) so seeking help is effortless…and a trusty lactation consultant should definitely be on that list!
Mental health therapist/Psychiatrist—
If you have problems with mental health prior to getting pregnant, you should continue to see your therapist and psychiatrist throughout pregnancy to tackle the challenges that will ultimately come with pregnancy. One out of seven women will struggle with postpartum depression, so this is another resource you will want to have on your postpartum list if you find yourself dealing with more than the baby blues. If you have struggled with a mood disorder prior to pregnancy, have your therapist on speed dial! Women are more likely to have postpartum depression if they have a personal history of depression or anxiety.
Building your birth team should be just as important as picking out your baby's name and even more important than picking a paint color for the nursery. Building a killer birth team will set you and your family up for birthing success and long-term health. Seek out professionals who can support your birth plan. You should be confident in their ability and comfortable with their style of practice and personality. The more comfortable and confident you are going into labor and delivery, the more control you have over your body and the healthier you and your baby will be.
If you need help picking your birth team, message me or join our facebook group- Pittsburgh Natural Birth and Parenting https://www.facebook.com/groups/304593266794237/