Having a baby is one of the most exciting times in a couple’s life together. But it can also bring with it stress, uncertainty and the need to make important decisions about the birthing process. Assuming a healthy mother with a pregnancy that doesn’t present any unusual challenges (such as twins) or a medical history or serious chronic medical conditions that might complicate things (high blood pressure or diabetes), couples have options when choosing a practitioner to facilitate the birthing process. Knowing the benefits and limitations of each type of practitioner can help make this decision process easier.
Mothers facing a high-risk pregnancy, will need an obstetrician and perhaps even a maternal-fetal medicine specialist. In this birthing scenario, a doctor will be on hand for the delivery in case any issues present themselves that would require a cesarean or other necessary procedure. This type of birth happens in a hospital and is performed by practitioners who went to medical school.
Certified nurse-midwife (CNM)
A happy middle ground between doctor and midwife, these practitioners have formal medical training and can handle all your primary services, including gynecology visits, family planning, preconception care, prenatal care and postpartum care. They mostly work in hospitals, but also use birth centers and can come to your home for delivery there. Most mid-wives in the U.S. are CNMs, and they typically have obstetricians they can consult if complications arise. If a hospital visit is necessary, CNMs will go there with the mother, providing support throughout the process. This is an emerging approach to childbirth.
Direct-entry midwife (traditional midwife)
Some prefer a hands-on or holistic approach to pregnancy–a friend who will be there each step of the way to discuss the different things that happen during pregnancy, both physiologically and emotionally. People choosing this route, however, should make sure that the direct-entry midwife has a relationship with an obstetrician in case there are problems.
And if something goes wrong?
Regardless of the type of birthing assistance, sometimes things do not go smoothly. Here are some common birth-related events that could trigger a medical malpractice claim:
- Birth injuries to the child or mother – blood loss by mother or child, or failing to monitor the baby’s oxygen intake
- Wrongful birth – the OB-GYN or RCN failed to inform the parents of a serious medical condition in the baby during pregnancy
If you or someone you know suffered harm during childbirth, contact an attorney who has experience in dealing with medical malpractice.