What does ideal maternity care look like?

Would you know it when you saw it?  What if there was a practice in Athens that looked like this:

  • Medical care is provided by a Doctor / Midwife team.
  • Every client takes a childbirth education class, whether it is a in-depth class for new parents or a refresher class for those with a previous experience.
  • Everyone sees a counselor or social worker at least once during prenatal care and again during the postpartum period.
  • Group prenatal care  the norm.
  • Everyone has continuous labor support from a birth doula.
  • A lactation consultant shows up within hours of every birth to support breastfeeding initiation.
  • Families receive in-home postpartum support from a doula.
  • Everyone has access to new parent and breastfeeding support groups.
  • Insurance is billed for these services and flexible payment plans are available.

Would you support this?  More importantly, would you go there for your care?

3 Responses to “What does ideal maternity care look like?”
  1. Rebekah says:

    I think that the “ideal” for each woman is different. For me, the ideal is having a close relationship with one midwife whom I trust. I don’t think a doctor need be involved at all (for me!) unless my midwife thought there was a problem with my health. I say this because I don’t think pregnancy is a sickness, and I think of a doctor as someone who helps sick people. A midwife is there to assist a healthy woman.

    And as for group prenatal care, I can’t say this would appeal to me either. What if a problem arises? Then it is known to all in the group before you had time to deal with it privately. For me- private prenatal visits.

    Just thought I’d share my perspective! Please know that it is not criticism, just one woman’s view.

  2. Rachel says:

    My two personal birth experiences varied greatly, the first being with a high volume OB practice with several partners and the second being with one homebirth midwife. I greatly preferred having only one caregiver, but I also like the idea of having an OB back up so long as their birth philosophy was in tune with my own. I could also be okay with multiple caregivers if everyone was on the same page. It seems like I hear things like , “you can have your natural birth/VBAC/low intervention birth if so-and-so is on call”. I don’t think any mom should feel like having her birth plan respected is a lottery.
    I think all parents can benefit from a childbirth class and access to counselor/social worker, doula, LC and peer support groups. I have no personal experience with group prenatal care, but I really like the idea and think I would have greatly benefited from it with my first. I knew very few new parents of parents-to-be, so it was the kind of support I was lacking. But I’m a social person by nature and I could see how someone more reserved may not like that setting as much. And for insurance covering these expenses? Be still, my beating heart!

  3. Kate Hodges says:

    Rebekah – I agree that “ideal” will be different for each woman. I was thinking of “ideal” from the perspective of what would produce the best maternal / infant outcomes. Research suggests that group prenatal care can improve outcomes, specifically in underserved populations like adolescents and African-Americans. For me, I found that group prenatal care had more to offer in the way of enhanced education and support. It really does take a village and we need help connecting with a local tribe these days when most people live far away from their family.

    As far as midwife v. doctor, I too would prefer the midwifery model of care but unfortunately, in the state of Georgia – a midwife has to practice under the supervision of a doctor. My ultimate goal is to work towards a totally integrated maternity care practice. The reality is that some pregnancies are going to be high risk and a few people will develop problems along the way. It’s important to have a system where those issues can be addressed and managed without kicking the client out of the practice because a doctor was not available. In the “ideal” practice, you wouldn’t see a doctor unless you needed one.

    Rachel – I agree that the only way this would all work is that everyone involved operates under the same philosophy about pregnancy and birth. It’s not fair for a Mama to worry about whether or not her birth plan will be respected based on who will be on call the day of her appointment / birth. As for insurance coverage . . . the more we start asking for it, the sooner it may happen. One day they will wake up and realize that by improving birth outcomes, we are saving them money! Communication via the pocketbook is always most efficient with insurance companies.

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