Hiring an OB or Midwife: 10 Things That Are NOT Deal Breakers

1.  The office/hospital is beautiful.

A beautiful office sure makes for a nice place to sit. I'll give you that.  But, are you going to labor and birth in that office? Are you moving in? Is there a correlation between wonderful, respectful health care providers and new/modern/spa like space?  nope.  This might be a great way to choose a nail spa or even a spot for dog grooming, but not your health care provider.  This is NOT important.  Bring a book and take off on a fictional journey while you wait and snack on raw nuts.  

You want to birth in a beautiful space? Who can blame you.  But you know what - when the day comes you won't be aware of the color of the walls or how fine the linens are.  It's a wonderful bonus if you get a beautiful birthing space and an awesome motherbaby friendly provider in one birth-perfect package.  But, a well designed room won't matter much to you if you're not happy with how things go down.  Your provider has a greater impact on this than a room color and fixtures.

2.  The staff is so nice!

So, the office staff isn't making the calls on game day.  It sure is nice to work with pleasant people, that's for certain.  I prefer to eat at restaurants with great wait staff and stay in hotels with amazing service.  When it comes to making the big calls concerning your health and birth - it's the provider that matters.  However rude or nice the staff, ultimately they make up a very small part of your pregnancy experience and none of your birth experience.  

3.  Appointments are always on time or have short wait times.

How is it that some providers always run on time or close to?  I'll tell ya- they're not at their births and if they are their induction and/or cesarean rate is likely high.  Health care providers who are patient enough to allow labor to start and continue as it is intended and attend their clients' births rather than relying on the on-call doc and scheduled births, have clinic-scheduling difficulties.  Add to this the fact that they are told how many appointments to take/hour, appointment scheduling is out of their hands, and this amazing provider is probably spending more time with you than the 5 minutes you are truly allotted.  When it's your time to labor and push you're never gonna feel bad for those people waiting and you will be gratful to have your patient, skilled provider caring for you.

A caviat to this is that it's unfair to compare those in private or shared practices to those working for a group/hosptial and midwives to OBs.  Midwives, by the nature of midwifery, allow for longer appointments and have fewer patients.  In shared practices it's easier for the person not attending births on a given day to keep up with clinic appointments.  This is great!  But a provider's ability to run an on-time office is in no way a measure of his/her quality of care. 

4.  He/She makes me laugh.

Laughter is the best medicine, of course! While bed-side manner is awesome and definitely a plus, being funny and/or super polite does not equate to being an awesome health care provider.  This is just not reason enough to hire someone. 

It's great to have a connection with your provider.  But ultimately this is a professional relationship and you aren't looking for a bestie - you are looking for someone that you can trust to leave you alone when it's appropriate and to only intervene when needed.  You need someone that will be there for you when you are ready to birth your baby.  Someone who will trust your own ancient birth wisdom and support you while you labor and push as your baby and body tell you - not to say "sure you can do whatever you want so long as you and baby are safe" then procede to flip you over to a standard stirrup position to "make things easier."  If and when this person looks in your eyes and says "I think we need to move to an induction/augmentation/cesarean" you know that all else has been exhausted and you can move forward in this direction with confidence in the decision and respect and honor for your birth.

5.  My sister/friend/cousin/mom/friend's-cousin's-mom uses him/her.

This is probably a great way to choose a hair dresser.  A health care povider, not so much.  Unless of course your sister/friend/cousin/mom/friend's cousin's mom and you have a lot in common in regards to your motherbaby care birth plans. You may like the same jokes, love the same music and read the same books, but have very different ideas about optimal motherbaby maternity care.  Take a good childbirth class and look for red flags.  Hire a doula and listen to what your doula has to say.  What care providers are doulas choosing?  Who do her clients see?  You hire a doula because of the knowledge she holds, because of what she has seen - this person has had far more experiences with birth than your sister/friend/cousin/mom/friend's cousin's mom (unless of course that person is also a doula).

6. I don't want to cheat.

There is no cheating in health care. If you feel uncomfortable with the care you have received in the past, with the suggestions your doctor or midwife is making and the conversation that takes place there after, if you find you and your provider have different comfort levels with pregnancy gestation, baby size, natural labor, inductions, pitocin, skin-to-skin contact, vaginal breech birth, etc. . . this isn't a reason to cheat - it's NOT cheating. It's your RIGHT. Get another opinion, transfer care to another health care provider, you have options! It's important you are a good match with your provider. This will allow you to trust this person's suggestions and decisions regarding your care rather than questioning him/her the whole time, which, truly, is frustrating for everyone involved.

7. The office/hospital is so close to my house.

Okay, if you live in the woods and have a history of precipitous labor, this might be important. But for the average woman with an average labor there are at least two hospitals within a half hour of her, even in traffic. Proximity to your house at a place with a 50% cesarean rate vs. drive 30 minutes further for a care provider with a much lower cesrean rate . . . even in transition this mom of three would choose the 30 minute drive.

8. He/She says "whatever you want to do" when I ask questions.

See number 4 above. Be sure you are actually hearing what is said and what isn't said, not what you want to hear.

9. My partner says this is best.

YOU are a strong, intelligent and capable woman. In a perfect world you, your partner and provider will have an actual discussion. You CAN and SHOULD BE making decisions about your health care and while your partner may have valid input and legit concerns, ultimately you are the one going through this and your input and concerns are not invalid. It is you that will labor and birth this baby and you are capable of that AND choosing your provider.

10. I NEED my toes painted in the hospital the day after I've had my baby.

It's no secret, postpartum isn't always when we look our best. New moms are tired, swollen and sore after a vaginal birth. Add a major surgery on to that and yah, some pampering might be nice. A pedicure is a great way for mom to grab some alone time and treat herself - but let's revisit that section rate, your birth options, your provider's availability for your labor and birth and faith in your body to grow and birth a healthy baby - would you give all that up for pretty toes? Maybe you work it out where you get it all. Maybe not. But don't let some polish, even organic formaldehyde-free polish, be the deal breaker when chosing a health care provider.

Amanda Devereux is founder of Nola Nesting, a Doula, Birth Boot Camp Instructor, and mom of three breastfed babes.

My Grandma's Walls - The Beauty of Heirloom Photography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . .

In a world where cameras are affordable, the digital-age has removed the pressure to selectively open the shutter and photoshop is a click away, it can be hard to see the value in professional photography. We have some incredible shots of our family that tell the story of our lives and adventures. In a time when we spend so much on so many disposable items, like the latest ipad or baby gadget, I want to spend my family’s money more carefully. I want to spend it where it will last. So why do I spend my family’s hard earned money on something I can seemingly do myself?

Because I can’t do it.

I can do a lot of things, the ability to operate a camera is among them. But, I do not have the talent to see the light, the framing, the heart of my subject and make the camera work to capture that the way my mind’s eye sees it the way a truly talented artist and skilled professional photographer can.

What I what I want is an heirloom. I don’t want a large package deal or a hundred pictures. I don’t want to pay for over-edited pictures or for someone to dump ‘professional’ shots in a photoshop package to give them all a trendy look. I am capable of taking those shots. I want my walls to have the feeling of my grandmothers’. I don’t want awkward family pictures and trendy props. I want my children, in all their creative, beautiful and spirited glory frozen in time. I want my grandchildren to see how amazing their parents were as children and see all the love and joy I find in them, how they have made me laugh and how we treasured their tiny rolls and milestones - and I want it conveyed in an image. I want to leave this heirloom for my children and theirs.

Olivia has captured the birth of my son, his newborn moments, has revealed my children’s most inner selves and captured the essence of our family in a way that we, ourselves cannot. Seeing the people I love more than anything on this earth through her lens, through her eyes, moves me in a way true art does. Not like a snapshot. I am grateful to her for sharing her gift with me and providing me the opportunity to feel the joy of my son’s birth, smell his newborn head, remember young sibling love and see how our family has grown each time I look at my wall.

So, yah, some things are expensive. And some things are priceless.

Amanda Devereux is co-owner of Nola Nesting, a doula, Birth Boot Camp Instructor, and mom of three breastfed babes.


Breastfeeding and the Family . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(New Orleans Childbirth Classes)

Breastfeeding isn't a single experience. It can be wonderful, stressful, beautiful, trying, tiring, restful and inspiring as well as many other things - in just a day!

I am saddened that another blogger experienced breastfeeding as a 'ball and chain' and that another described a 'super husband' as one who rushes in with formula to save the day. Breastfeeding is something done for the family -For a baby brought into this world who the family is responsible for feeding long after the breastfeeding relationship has ended. I have attended births as a doula, held meetings, enjoyed movies and date nights and more all while exclusively breastfeeding. There's no imprisonment here. Feeding a baby, by breast or otherwise is the job of a family.

Partners, husbands, friends, siblings - Breastfeeding isn't just mom's gig. This is about feeding and nurturing the family, and you all have a role!

Click the links below for the full blog.

See? No chains.

See? No chains.

Amanda Devereux is co-owner of Nola Nesting, a doula, Birth Boot Camp Instructor and mom of three breastfed babes.


The Nurture of Women (or Redefining the Hen House)

Gatherings of women often get an unjustly bad rap - the stereotypical hen house image full of clucking, pecking, and feathers flying. Strong, assertive, expressive women are frequently (mis)labeled as "catty" and "bossy," amongst other things. This typecasting begins early in our daughters' social development with groups of girls who are just learning to navigate friendships, be it with girls or boys. I’ve already heard this in reference to gatherings of girls in my daughter’s social interactions, and these loaded words are never used to characterize boys' social behaviors. The thing is, these words do not define my experience, and I find it to be presumptuous, rude, and a very prejudicial and unfortunate way to see the world. I would tell my daughter “it’s unkind.”

The women who share in my life have been and are powerful, uplifting, and empowering. I didn’t view my grandmothers as "catty," but as loving, warm, and generous. I have amazing childhood friends, female ones, that I respect and love. Sure, there are girls I didn’t get along with, women I don’t like, and the same goes for boys and men - but it has more to do with personality and less (well, nothing) to do with gender. I could not be the mother I am without the women, the friends I cherish, mothering alongside me. As an owner of Nola Nesting, I work closely and interdependently with other women. I have so much admiration and love for these women and for all they bring to not only Nola Nesting, but to our clients. They are creative and inspiring, giving and healing women.

As childbirth educators and doulas, we celebrate the power and strength of women, their ability to transform and bring life into this world in a way done by innumerable women before them, a way the predates by millenia the medicalized model of childbirth and the categorization of pregnancy as a condition to be treated and cured. We see women at their most vulnerable and at their most fierce, and I feel nothing short of awe each and every time. I love families at births. The privilege of witnessing a person fall in love with their partner (again) and new baby is one of my favorite parts of birth, but supportive women bring a special energy to labor and birth. The women at my births were tender and held wisdom in a way my very loving, supportive, and nothing-shy-of-amazing husband could not.

To bring Birth Boot Camp to New Orleans, I attended a training in Dallas last month and was surrounded by women I had never met before. These were strong women who were there to learn more about supporting other women and families, and everyone was beautiful, loving, and supportive of one another. I truly enjoyed being in their presence and I left feeling energized and full. In our busy lives it’s not often that we get to gather and just enjoy the company of other women, each uniquely teaching and learning in our turn.

I am grateful for the women in my life, for the way they nurture and encourage me, for being sounding boards, for love and support. These are the relationships with women I want my daughter to see. Whatever she does in her life, whether suffering a broken heart, celebrating a hard-earned victory, pondering life’s meaning, or bringing a baby into this world, I hope she has a support network that includes women who love and celebrate the woman she is. And of course, should she decide to become a mother, I hope she has a doula!


(Disclosure: This blog post was edited, as is much of my work, by one of the profound women in my life.  My sister-by-another-mother - one of the most courageous and witty women I'll ever know.)


Amanda Devereux is co-owner of Nola Nesting, a New Orleans doula, Birth Boot Camp Instructor, and mom of three breastfed babes.