There are a lot of different people who might end up being included in your birth team, depending on what happens, and whether complications arise. These might include: Your family doctor.
Your family doctor is usually the first person you will tell when you become pregnant. He or she will then talk you through what happens during your pregnancy and help you plan your antenatal care. If you choose to have your baby with a midwife-led team or a community health team, your doctor may also be involved in the birth.
In the UK, midwives play a major role in both antenatal care in the community, in hospital as well as being part of the birth team. Many women with a straightforward labour will have only midwives supporting them during labour and delivery. A midwife is someone who is trained to look after mum and baby during a normal pregnancy, labour and birth. She is not a nurse, although many midwives are also trained, nurses. You will see a hospital midwife at each visit to the hospital antenatal clinic, for example, for the 20-week anomaly scan. The hospital midwives will look after you through your labour and deliver your baby if all goes smoothly.
Community midwife will visit you at home, and you’ll probably get to know them during your pregnancy. They are often attached to your family doctor’s surgery. The community midwives are often involved in midwife-led birth units and home births and will also visit you and your baby at home whether you had a home or hospital birth.
A sonographer is a healthcare professional trained to carry out and interpret the ultrasound scans you have during your pregnancy to assess how your baby is growing and developing.
An obstetrician is a doctor who specialises in the care of women during pregnancy, labour and birth. Most low-risk births in the UK are midwife led and you may only see the obstetrician if your doctor or midwife is particularly concerned with your situation. If your pregnancy is higher risk or requires more scans, your pregnancy will be obstetrician led. An obstetrician will attend complex deliveries, and will always perform caesarean sections.
In the USA it is more common to have obstetrician led care and an obstetrician present during the birth.
This is a doctor who is trained to look after babies and children. A paediatrician may attend your birth if there are concerns or complications. If your baby is born in the hospital a paediatrician will check your baby after the birth.
A health visitors is a nurse in the UK with a special training in the health of babies, young children and families. About ten days after your baby is born, your health visitor will pop in for a visit and give you your red child health record book. She will monitor your baby’s health and development at home, your doctor’s surgery or at the local child health clinic until your child starts school. She will weigh your baby, carry out baby checks with your doctor, give immunisations and can advise on any problems you may have.
This is the person you choose to include in your labour and birth. This is often your partner but maybe your mother, your sister or a best friend who had given birth before and wants to support you during birth. Their role is to support you during labour and the birth and advocate for you to help you have the birth you had hoped for. You should discuss your birth plan and scenarios before the birth so you both have a good understanding of when you would like to consider different pain relief options, breastfeeding after the birth, natural versus managed third stage etc.
These are women, usually mums themselves, who have been trained to support women and their families during pregnancy, childbirth and early parenthood. This support is practical and emotional but non-medical in nature. Doulas often say that they ‘mother the mother’. You can have a doula as a birth partner (you can opt for just a doula or she can support you alongside your birth partner) or you can hire a post-natal doula to help you at home with the new baby. She will be rather like a maternity nurse but she will take on the domestic chores and nurture you, so you can focus on bonding with your baby.