What’s right for your labor and delivery?

The idea of giving birth is likely daunting, whether it’s your first child or your third. And finding out that there may be several people in the room while you labor may also be a little off-putting—it’s a very intimate event.

Labor and delivery can be an overwhelming time, especially if you’re giving birth to your first child. It’s important to understand who will be in the room with you, what their jobs are, and what options you have during labor.

Here’s a rundown of everyone who is there to usher your bundle of joy into the world.

Obstetrician

You’ve likely been meeting with your obstetrician—or several obstetricians in your doctor’s medical practice—since you found out you were pregnant.

Your OB leads your care while you’re in labor; his or her job is to help ensure that both you and the baby are safe and that your labor is progressing as it should.

If you opt for pain medication during labor your OB can discuss your options and determine the right time to administer them.

Labor is sometimes unpredictable. If your labor isn’t progressing at the right pace or if the baby is in distress, your OB may recommend a cesarean section (C-section) rather than a vaginal delivery.

Midwife

Midwives are trained medical professionals who typically help women looking for a pregnancy and birth with minimal medical intervention. A midwife can replace an obstetrician or work alongside one, depending on her level of certification.

During labor and delivery, midwives provide hands-on physical and emotional care. A midwife might assist with breathing exercises or help you get into a comfortable position during labor.

Getting help from a midwife may reduce the chance you’ll need a C-section and can lower your chance of injury.

Labor and Delivery Nurse

You’ll be in the care of a nurse or two all throughout your labor and delivery. This nurse plays an integral role in your care, answering your questions and helping you progress through each stage of delivery.

A labor and delivery nurse will work closely with you to support you throughout labor and delivery. She acts as your point person to manage your and the baby’s care and consults with your OB on progressing through the stages, getting pain medication if you choose, and any complications that may arise.

Anesthesiologist

An anesthesiologist helps manage pain during labor and delivery. Anesthesiologists administer pain medication such as an epidural or a spinal. An epidural is numbing medication injected into a small catheter in the lower back near the spinal canal. Similar to an epidural, a spinal is injected directly into the spinal canal and works faster than an epidural.

In addition to this pain medication, an anesthesiologist will also play a role in your care if you and your doctor decide a C-section is the best option for delivery. In this case, the anesthesiologist will administer pain medication before surgery and monitor you throughout the procedure.

Doula

A doula can work alongside your doctor or midwife and provides emotional and physical support to a woman before, during and after labor. A doula is trained to help a woman plan her birth ahead of time, provide physical comfort during labor, communicate with medical professionals and help the mother progress through the stages of labor.

Like a midwife, doulas may reduce the need for pain medication or a C-section.

Choosing who helps you bring your baby into the world is a very personal and important decision to make, so it’s vital that you understand what each professional can bring to your labor and delivery.

For more information on pregnancy and childbirth, or to make an appointment with a Geisinger specialist, please call 800-275-6401 or visit Geisinger.org.

Labor room team