Putting Together Your Birth Team

Those included in your birth team will heavily influence your birth experience. Whether newly pregnant or midway through, putting together your birth team is an important task not to be overlooked. Educating yourself about your choices will impact your course of action. Your birth environment will also affect your experience.

When putting together your birth team, take your time and trust your instincts.  Interview, ask questions and talking to past clients of theirs are an important first step in this process.

The Midwife

Midwifery is an empowering, woman centered form of maternity care. Midwives may practice during a hospital birth, home birth or in a birthing center.  These trained professionals help “healthy women during labor, delivery, and after the birth of their babies”.  “Women who choose them have had no complications during their pregnancy”. Midwives can have different levels of training.

Midwife Training

There are several paths one can take to become a midwife. The three most common types of midwives are Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM), Certified Midwife (CM) and Certified Professional Midwife (CPM).

Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM) Certified Nurse-Midwives are “registered nurses who have graduated from an accredited nurse-midwifery education program and have passed a national exam. They can practice in all 50 states and the District of Columbia”.

–Certified Midwife (CM)  The 

Certified Midwife has a background in a health related field other than nursing. CMs graduate from a  masters level midwifery education program. They have similar training to CNMs, conform to the same standards as CNMs, but are not required to have the nursing component. Only a few states permit a CM to practice.

–Certified Professional Midwife (CPM)  The Certified Professional Midwife are non-nurse midwives who have training and clinical experience in childbirth. “The CPM credential is the only midwifery credential that requires the holder to demonstrate knowledge and have experience in providing midwifery services in out-of-hospital settings”. Their education and clinical training focuses on providing midwifery care in homes and freestanding birth centers.

Here are some valuable links for further reading: Midwife Schooling and  Midwives Alliance of North America. 

The Difference between a Midwife and an Obstetrician

You may be asking yourself what the difference is between a midwife and an obstetrician.  The type of pregnancy you are having will influence whether you choose a midwife or OB.  The main difference is that midwives are trained to work with women who have normal, uncomplicated and low risk pregnancies. The obstetrician is a generalist and works with a variety of medical conditions including surgery. While this is a blanket statement, there are exceptions such as working with a midwife during a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean).


A doula is a non-medical person who assists a woman before, during, or after childbirth.  These trained professionals provide continuous physical, emotional and educational support. Most doula-client relationships begin a few months before the baby is due. During this period, they develop a relationship in which the mother feels free to ask questions, express any fears or concerns, and take an active role in creating a birth plan. Often times the term doula refers to the birth doula, or labor support companion. However, there are also antepartum doulas and postpartum doulas.

Types of Doulas

–Birth Doula Birth Doulas “have the ability to provide comfort with pain-relief techniques including breathing techniques, relaxation techniques, massage, and laboring positions. Doulas also encourage participation from the partner and offer reassurance”.  The doula acts as an advocate for the mother to keep as close to the birth plan and specific requests as possible. The purpose of a  doula is to help women have a safe and empowering birth experience whether that be an unmedicated home birth or a Cesarean birth.

–Antepartum Doula An antepartum doula provides informational, emotional, physical, and practical support to women with high-risk pregnancies, women on bedrest or any other mom who needs extra support during pregnancy.

–Postpartum Doula The postpartum doula privdes support in the first weeks following birth. Navigating those first weeks are anything but easy for a new family. The main postpartum doula is to nurture the entire family as they transition into life with a newborn. This includes doing things to help the parent(s) feel more confident in their roles, sharing education on family adjustment. They work on a families specific needs.  A doula is not a lactation consultant or a night nurse. Those are very roles.

           Birth Photographer

Everyone in the birthing space is part of the birth team and this includes the birth photographer. Hopefully you have met with the her (or him) at least once. It doesn’t matter how great the images are, if they don’t have the energy you are looking for, it will disrupt the balance of your birthing environment. What you are looking for is entirely individualized. Some mothers do not mind everything being photographed, while others are far more private.  Just like the other members of your birth team, take your time and ask questions.

Where to find a birth photographer

–Word of Mouth While most people know someone who has given birth, not everyone has used a photographer. Asking around is a great place to start, but remember if another mother swears by so-and-so, that doesn’t mean they will be perfect for you. That’s where taking your time comes in.

–IAPBP The organization is the International Association of Professional Birth Photographers. You can look for photographers in your given area easily. These are professional photographers who have a code of conduct they adhere to.

–BBH Birth Becomes Her is another resource when looking for a birth photographer.  This is also a place to find a profession photographer who has “completed the extensive Essence of Birth Online Course or has shown themselves to be a leader in their local birth community”.

–Search Engine This is where most people begin and honestly can be a great starting point.

Here is to wishing you a grand adventure in your pregnancy putting together your birth team.

If you are ready to talk about adding a birth photographer to your birth team, contact me today

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