Congratulations, you’ve just found out you’re pregnant! Now what?!? Not to fear, your friendly neighbourhood doula is here to help you figure out some of the first things you should do when you find out you are pregnant. In the first of this four part series, you will learn about choosing a care provider to help keep you and baby healthy throughout pregnancy, birth, and postpartum.
Choosing a care provider is a very personal decision. Your care provider will be someone that you see fairly frequently during your pregnancy and will guide you through the medical aspects of pregnacy, birth, and postpartum. Regardless of what kind of care provider you choose, your care provider should be someone you trust and respect. The most important thing to remember is that you need to choose the care provider that you feel most comfortable with.
Here in Toronto, pregnant people have a variety of care provider options. In this blog, we will explore your options so that you can decide which option might be best for you and your family.
The first option we will explore is midwifery care. Midwives are experts in low risk pregnancies, unmedicated birth, postpartum support, and newborn care. In Ontario, midwives are covered by OHIP, so there are no out of pocket costs to you. Midwives provide care throughout pregnancy, birth, and 6 weeks postpartum. Midwives actively practice informed consent, meaning that every test and procedure is explained to you when it is offered, and it is your choice to consent or refuse. Because of this, plenty time is given during typical pregnancy and postpartum check-ups. Midwives also practice continuous support during birth, meaning that your midwifery team will be with you throughout all of active labour and your immediate postpartum recovery time. Midwives work on call, meaning that a midwife that has been caring for you during pregnancy will typically provide care for you during birth. Midwives do not administer medications during birth such as epidurals or Pitocin to induce labour and they cannot perform c-sections. If these medications or procedures become necessary, they will transfer care to an obstetrician and will often stay with you in a support role. Care will typically transfer back to your midwife for your 6 week postpartum period. During that time, your midwifery team provides care both at your home and at their clinic. You will see your midwives multiple times in the first 6 weeks postpartum. In Toronto, midwives provide care for those planning to birth at home, the Toronto Birth Centre, or at a hospital. There are a variety of midwifery clinics in Toronto, and each one has a specific hospital that they work with.
*Midwifery clinics fill up fast! If you are considering midwifery care, I recommend getting on the waitlist at your clinic(s) of choice ASAP.
Another option for care is an obstetrican. Obstetricians care for people with low or high risk pregnancies, birth, and postpartum. They are experts in high risk situations, medicated birth, and cesarean sections. In Ontario, obstetricians are covered by OHIP, so there will be no out of pocket costs for their care. Typical pregnancy check ups are often quick, but you always have the right to informed consent and can ask questions and consent or refuse any test or procedure. Obstetricians provide care for birthing people giving birth in hospitals. When you give birth with an obstetrician in a hospital, your obstetrian will come to you during labour to offer to do cervical checks, and when you are pushing to deliver the baby and placenta and provide any immediate postpartum care needed. Your nurse will check in with you throughout the rest of labour and your postpartum stay at the hospital. You will typically go back to your obstetrican’s office at 6 weeks postpartum for a check-up. In Toronto, the hospitals have a team of obstetricians that work on a rotation, meaning that the obstetrician that provides care for you in pregnancy may not be the one providing care for you during birth.
*Some family doctors also provide care during birth, pregnancy, and postpartum. Contact your family doctor to find out if they provide care during this time and what that looks like in their practice.
Choosing a care provider that you feel great about is the most important thing. Make a list of what is important to you in a care provider before you meet with any and trust your instincts. There are many care providers in Toronto and it’s OK to keep looking until you find the right one for you.
As a doula, I support families with any kind of care provider in any birth setting. Find out more about my doula service here.
(If you are not covered by OHIP and live in Ontario and would like to know more about your options, information can be found here.)