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Attitudes Toward Childbirth Greatly Affected by Care Providers

Alloy Photography for Veer

When I was pregnant with my first son, without much thought, I stuck with the ob-gyn I had seen solely for annual well-woman check-ups in my 20s. And although my husband and I did attend childbirth ed classes, I didn’t realize until the day I gave birth just how greatly my doctor’s attitudes toward technology like epidurals and episiotomies would impact me (I ended up with both, despite hoping for a drug- and intervention-free birth). A second pregnancy under the care of a hospital-based midwife and ultimately a duo of homebirth midwives showed me just how greatly attitudes of healthcare providers could differ, and highlighting just how important it is to think about not only the kind of care I wanted like to receive throughout pregnancy and childbirth, but whether or not my care provider is capable of offering that to me.

Fewer mamas-to-be and their partners are taking childbirth classes these days and are instead simply following the advice of their doctor or midwife, reports the Los Angeles Times. The article, “Pregnant women show an amazing lack of knowledge about childbirth options,” is based on a study published in the June issue of the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada, which highlights the importance of carefully selecting an appropriate care provider from the get-go.

The study, which is the third in a series examining the attitudes of women and their healthcare providers around the use of birth technology, included a questionnaire given to about 1,300 Canadian first-time, low-risk expectant mothers at varying points in their pregnancy, about 40 percent of whom were under the care of an ob-gyn, and nearly 30 percent under the care of a family physician or a registered midwife, respectively. Most of the women in the sample were well-educated, middle-class women who planned to give birth either at home or in a hospital, and about 18 percent of them planned to use the services of a doula. Fewer than 30 percent of the respondents planned to attend prenatal education classes, instead relying on the Internet and books for any information outside of what their care provider offered during visits.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the kind of provider mattered greatly, as patients attitudes tended to align with their choice of healthcare provider. For example, women under the care of obstetricians replied more favorably to the use of forms of birth technology or interventions and less supportive of a woman’s own role in childbirth, while women cared for by midwives were less receptive to the use of technology during childbirth and more supportive of a woman’s active role in giving birth; patients of family physicians fell somewhere in the middle.

Do you think your view of how you wanted to give birth was shaped by your healthcare provider? Or did you seek out other perspectives to figure out a birth plan that was truly right for you?