How can I choose a caregiver and birth setting that value labor support?

So you’ve decided you want to have labor support when you give birth. Great! Here are some questions to ask as you are choosing your maternity care provider and birth setting:

  • Your maternity care provider:
    • Would the care provider be able to stay with you through labor and provide supportive care?
    • What are the care provider’s experiences with and attitudes toward working with doulas?
  • Nursing resources during labor:
    • How many laboring women does each nurse care for (nurse-to-patient ratio)?
    • Will a nurse stay with you throughout labor?
    • Do the nurses have any special training, skills or commitment to providing supportive care to laboring women?
  • Institutional policies:
    • Are there any institutional policies about who or how many people may be with you?
    • What are the staff's experience with and attitudes toward doulas?
    • Are there any circumstances in which your doula would not be permitted to be present?
    • Does the facility have its own program for making doulas available?
  • Institutional resources:
    • Apart from pain medications, what is available to provide comfort during labor? (Examples might include tubs, showers, birth balls, hot and cold packs, rocking chairs, options for moving about and more.)
    • Are there enough of these resources (tubs, for example) for all the women giving birth at a given time?
    • Does the staff have training in non-drug ways of relieving labor pain?
    • If so, does the birth setting encourage women to use these resources?

You can read much more about ways to cope with labor pain here.