Updated: Mar 12
Creating your ideal birth team is a great way to ensure you are supported before, during, and after your birth. The following are definitions and descriptions of the most common members of one's birth team:
The midwife is a trained birth clinician. There are many different types. Some practice in hospitals, and others work at birth centers, or have a homebirth practice. The midwife will care for you during your pregnancy and be there for your birth. She may work with a back-up midwife, who will be there for you if your primary midwife is unable. Homebirth midwives usually visit you once or twice at home after you give birth. Midwives usually practice within the midwifery model of care. This view sees birth as a normal physiological event that requires no or very little intervention.
The obstetrician (OB) is a trained surgeon, who is most often associated with a hospital. The OB will take care of you prenatally, and may be there for your birth. This depends on whether they are in a solo or group practice. Obstetricians typically practice within the medical model of care. This view sees birth as a crisis waiting to happen, and an event that requires intervention and management.
// BIRTH DOULA:
A birth doula will be with you during your pregnancy, from the time you hire her, until after your birth. Typically you will meet 2 or 3 times before birth to develop your vision, and answer questions you might have. Your birth doula will stay with you during labor and birth, and will visit you at least once after birth. Doulas determine their own price and services. There is no diagnosing or prescribing.
A postpartum doula will care for you after you have your baby. She will tend to your needs; including breastfeeding support, nutrition, and guidance with newborn care and development. Your postpartum doula should have a list of local resources if you need other support. She should be well-versed in normal newborn care, early breastfeeding challenges, and she should be aware of the signs and symptoms of any kind of emotional adjustment issue. There is no diagnosing or prescribing.
// CERTIFIED LACTATION COUNSELOR (CLC):
The lactation counselor is a trained breastfeeding professional. She has taken a 40 hour course and an exam, and is able to handle many challenges that arise with breastfeeding. Some counselors practice in hospitals and doctors’ offices.
// INTERNATIONAL BOARD CERTIFIED LACATION CONSULTANT (IBCLC):
The board certified lactation consultant has much more extensive training and clinical hours. This is a step above the lactation counselor. Often times the consultants are present at the hospital as part of the staff. If there is a breastfeeding situation that is beyond the scope of practice or knowledge of the counselor, she will likely refer you to a lactation consultant.