The People We Should Celebrate in Birth

Labor Day is this Monday and we can’t think of a better way to celebrate than honoring the people involved in prenatal care, childbirth and helping you care for your new baby.  Having children is a “labor of love,” and there are many dedicated women who can help make it an easier, more comfortable and less stressful experience for you and your family.  From doctors and nurses, to midwives and doulas, in honor of Labor Day we are highlighting the professionals we should celebrate in birth.

OBGYN:  For most pregnant women, an Obstetrician is the primary practitioner who oversees care for both the mother and the baby while in utero.  Obstetricians specialize in prenatal care including a range of common pregnancy conditions such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, edema and many more.

OBs and their staff help monitor the baby in the womb to ensure mom is providing the best gestational conditions and the baby is growing and developing properly.  They also test for potential birth defects and other problems that may threaten the health of the baby.  OBs are typically the doctors that deliver babies in the hospital and will continue to check on mothers in the days after childbirth.  Obstetricians often perform circumcisions on baby boys a day or two after birth if the procedure is to be done in the hospital.

OBGYN Nurse:  You may encounter many different OBGYN nurses at your practice who have different roles in your prenatal and postpartum care.  You will often work with a nurse prior to seeing your doctor at every visit to review your status, symptoms and other vital information.  Nurses may help your OB perform routine tests in the office.  If you call your doctor’s office, you will often speak to a nurse who can answer most non-emergency obstetric questions or can seek advice from your doctor if necessary.

The People We Should Celebrate in BirthIn the hospital, your nurses are usually divided into two teams:  labor and delivery, and postpartum care.   Labor and delivery nurses monitor expectant moms and their babies through active labor and assist the doctor or midwife in delivering the baby.  Nurses may specialize in vaginal deliveries or c-sections as the care and procedures vary.  Postpartum nurses care for the new mother and newborn after the baby arrives.  Nurses will consistently check vital signs and the recovery status of the mother, helping her work through potential problems and symptoms.  Postpartum nurses also help mothers navigate caring for their newborns with tips and advice on everything from breastfeeding and burping, to diaper changes and swaddling.

Doula:  Doulas are trained, experienced professionals who assist mothers before, during and after childbirth.  Birth doulas aid in the labor process and usually stay with the mom-to-be throughout labor.  Her role is to preserve the birth experience as the mother intends and provide comfort as the mother sees fit.  Postpartum doulas help mothers navigate their new role as a mother.  This may include newborn care, soothing techniques, infant feeding support, recovery solutions for the mother and family adjustment.

Midwife:  Midwives are often specialized trained nurses who provide prenatal care for mothers and their babies.  Midwifery is aimed at individualized care that takes each mother’s specific needs in mind such as their emotional wellbeing or cultural background.  Midwives foster personal relationships with their patients and often deliver babies themselves.  They are more likely to assist in labor support and postpartum care than Obstetricians.

Lactation Consultant:  A lactation consultant is a trained professional who helps new mothers in their breastfeeding journey.  Many new mothers, especially first time moms, are unsure about how to begin breastfeeding.  Lactation consultants help with logistics such as positioning babies and ensuring proper latch, milk production strategies, hunger signs, breastfeeding schedules and a healthy breastfeeding diet.  Lactation consultants usually make rounds in the hospital and offer new mothers fact-based information on infant feeding.  They can also see mothers in or outside the hospital on an appointment basis.

Pediatrician:  This is the primary care physician for babies and may be a child’s doctor through her teenage years.  Pediatricians make first contact with the baby in the hospital as they check on the health and development of babies daily.  Then babies visit the doctor several times within the first month and typically again at two, four, six, nine and twelve months within the first year.  Pediatricians and their staff will weigh, measure and examine your baby at each visit.  They administer shots when necessary and may perform extra tests such as vision, hearing and other specialized exams.

Mothers:  Of course, the entire birthing process isn’t possible without the strength, courage and love of mothers.  Motherhood is a one-of-a-kind experience that requires a lot of patience, dedication, love and support.  When becoming a mom, many women have a newfound appreciation for their own mothers and other mothers in their lives.  Motherhood is enhanced through family and community, and finding support in other mothers with shared experiences.

This Labor Day, we hope you join us in celebrating all those who make birth and childcare their “labor of love.”  Happy Labor Day!