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Finding a Naturally Minded Care Provider {When You Have a High-Risk Pregnancy}

amy January 28, 2016

When you have a high-risk pregnancy it can be even more difficult to find a naturally minded care provider- here are some helpful tips from a high-risk mom.

By Amy Wood, contributing writer

When I was expecting my first child I knew that, for many reasons, I wanted to plan for a natural birth where we waited for labor to begin spontaneously. I would not get any type of medication or epidural during labor, and that only those interventions which were absolutely necessary (if any) would be used.

There was only one little problem with this — I had a high-risk pregnancy.

I have type 1 diabetes which means that any pregnancy I have is considered high risk. Some normal, low-risk mothers have trouble finding a care provider who supports a natural birth with little to no use of the common labor and birth interventions (which all have their place when used judiciously rather than routinely), so having a high-risk pregnancy made finding a care provider much more difficult.

Finding a Naturally Minded Care Provider {When You Have a High-Risk Pregnancy}

At first, I didn’t realize how difficult finding a doctor would be, I knew I would need to see an OB who worked with high-risk patients, so I just went to one who someone else recommended to me.

I didn’t even bring up natural birth until my third visit. I was barely into my second trimester and things were going great, yet he told me that I would have to be induced whether I liked it or not. He told me that all sorts of interventions I wasn’t comfortable with would be used — not because they are needed in every situation, but simply because that is what the standard procedure is at the hospital. He said that even if my baby was completely healthy and stable that he would not be able to room-in with us for the first 24 hours but instead would be required to stay in the nursery during that time. Then he added that I had a 50% chance of having a c-section.

I left his office, cried in the car with my husband, and never went back.

I knew I could never go back to that office — or to any other doctor with that same perspective- but I had no idea how to find a doctor who would work with me and treat me like an individual. I thought it was a long shot, but I decided to post about my difficulties in a Christian women’s Yahoo group I participated in at the time. It wasn’t even a local group.

Miraculously, I received a response from another woman in the group who actually lived in my area (and is now my friend) and had recently had a home birth with a great midwife. She encouraged me to contact her for help. At first I didn’t think this would be helpful — I knew a midwife could not care for me, and certainly not a homebirth midwife — but this actually led me right where I needed to be.

Take Full Advantage of Social Media

The internet is amazing. It just is. Make sure to take full advantage of all of the resources available to you online. Everything from searching online to joining groups on Facebook where you can connect with other moms who can point you in the right direction.

I don’t remember Facebook “groups” being available or at least in widespread use when I was pregnant for the first time, but now you can likely find a natural parenting or natural birth group — possibly even specific to your area — where you can ask like-minded moms for their recommendations.

Unless you are speaking with other high-risk moms specifically, you’ll need to be mindful that some care providers who are a good fit for a low-risk mom desiring a natural birth may not be a good fit for you. This at least gives you a place to start and you can begin making a list of potential care providers. Also, don’t be afraid to ask in larger, non-local groups. You never know who might know of someone in your area who can help you further.

You can also do a simple google search for natural birth options in your area and local midwives. This is actually how I came across a group of local homebirth midwives who were able to assist me in finding an OB.

Isaiah Ultrasound 3

Ask Local Midwives

In general, midwives are more naturally minded and use fewer interventions when it comes to birth than other medical professionals. They often are more respectful of the design and physiology of birth. This is especially true of homebirth midwives.

When I contacted the local group I found online they had me come in for a free consultation and listened to me, empathized with me, and were able to offer the names of a few OB’s who they thought might work well for me. Although they are skilled in homebirths, these midwives sometimes need to transport a mother to the hospital in labor — or even transfer care to an OB at some point during pregnancy for mothers who end up risking out of their care- so they can be familiar with different doctors in the area and help you find one that might be a good fit for your particular situation.

I also contacted the other homebirth midwife that was recommended to me and the doctor she recommended I call was also on the list of doctors that the midwife group gave to me.

Even if local midwives cannot care for you during your pregnancy and birth, do not be afraid to use them as a resource on your journey to finding the right care provider for you. If they are anything like the midwives in my area they will be more than willing to help!

Be Willing to Travel

Sometimes the care you need can’t be found close to home so you need to be open to expanding your search area to find the right care provider. The right care provider can make a huge difference in your pregnancy, your birth, your subsequent births, and you and your baby’s health. It is worth it to travel farther to find someone who respects you and treats you like an individual.

The first OB I went to see after talking with the midwives was closer to my house and he also worked with a midwife so the combination of those two aspects made it seem like the reasonable thing to do. I met first with the midwife and loved her and what I heard from her about the doctor, their practice, and how things are normally handled. But then I met with the doctor, and his perspective was exactly the same as the first OB I had seen.

I knew that, whether one is low risk or high risk, you can’t predict how a pregnancy or birth will go. I was more than willing to accept interventions if they were truly necessary, but I wanted to avoid unnecessary interventions. I wanted to be treated like the individual that I am. So even though things already weren’t going well with this doctor I said that I knew that I may need to be induced if a problem arose during my pregnancy. I explained that if everything was going smoothly and there were no complications, I would want to wait for labor to start on its own. The doctor told me that I would have problems at the end of my pregnancy, implying that complications were inevitable and so certainly I would be induced regardless.

Again I left in tears and never went back (and this doctor was wrong, now five times over!).

I had one more doctor on my list. It was the doctor that the group of midwives and the individually practicing midwife had both suggested. He was also around 30 minutes away from me, but with no other options, I finally made an appointment. I was pleasantly surprised when he ended up being the perfect fit for me! He was kind, gentle, respectful, and agreed that I should be treated like an individual. He understood my desire to wait for labor to begin on its own, and he knew that I was willing to be induced if it actually became necessary. I felt that I could truly trust him and that was enormously important.

We have moved a few times since my first pregnancy (progressively farther away from my doctor) yet I still see him. The time spent, the driving, the gas money, etc., it is all more than worth it to be able to see a care provider who respects you and treats you like an individual.

It’s unfortunate that some mothers have to travel so far to find this kind of care, but until maternity care changes on a larger scale, you must be willing to travel to find the care you desire, if needed.

Don’t Give Up

You may go through several doctors before finding the right one for you. I know that this is frustrating and stressful. Help your partner or other support person understand why this is important to you so that you have at least one person who completely supports you. You may also find such support in the birth and natural parenting groups I mentioned earlier.

Know that you may not be required to see a maternal-fetal medicine specialist, or at least may not need to see one for regular pregnancy care. I thought I would have to see a specialist but learned that I could receive care from any OB as long as he or she was willing to take me as a patient. With my first pregnancy, I did have one appointment with the specialist, which my OB strongly suggested, but I haven’t made that same visit with any of my other pregnancies.

Be willing to take the time to find a doctor who is willing to work with you, call anyone who might possibly work, reach out in every place you can think of, exhaust every option you can find. Feel free to even leave a comment here if you need further help and I will help you to the best of my ability.

This can be a long, hard journey but the payoff at the end is invaluable.

When you are faced with a high-risk pregnancy it is extremely important to have a full understanding of your situation. Take the time to research every aspect and determine what is evidence-based care for you and your baby (this may be different from what you hear from care providers). Having this knowledge you can feel confident going forward and finding a care provider who will work with you. You deserve to be treated like an individual and you should put forth every effort to find a doctor who will truly give that to you.

Have you ever had a high-risk pregnancy?  How did you end up connecting with the right care provider?

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1 Comment

  1. […] that I be treated like a normal pregnancy, as long as everything was progressing normally and I found a very respectful care provider who worked with me on these things and agreed that this would be appropriate for […]

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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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