Written By: Elisabeth Howard, PhD, CNM, FACNM, Academic Division of Midwifery, Women & Infants Hospital on October 7, 2022
There are many choices to make in the journey to parenthood. Your birth experience is your journey. It can be elevated with the practice of shared decision-making. This is a collaborative process that acknowledges you as the expert in your care and in making decisions. It’s the opportunity to receive complete and accurate information, to consider and clarify values, and to receive support for decision-making. Throughout your care, communication with your provider should be clear, evidence-based, and aim to explore your preferences.
Maternity care is sometimes a complicated journey. Information you receive, your past experiences, and your values are something your team should explore with you. A trusting relationship with your care team rests on this communication.
A tool that may enhance your own exploration of values and priorities is considering a written birth plan. Women and Infants has one here, and there are others online if you prefer.
Through shared exploration of your values and goals, a partnership with your care team will lead to a meaningful journey consistent with your hopes and expectations. The major considerations in your birth journey include provider and place of birth, type of coping strategy planned for labor, choice of labor companionship, and infant feeding method.
You deserve equitable and positive outcomes. You have the capacity within you to have your birth your way. We highly recommend 1:1 labor support with a doula. You may find a doula here. If you have a Medicaid insurance plan (Neighborhood Health) or a Rhode Island based private insurance, you may qualify for doula services reimbursements or paid doula services. If you have out of state insurance, feel free to reach out to your insurer and ask about doula services. You’ve got this!