Building a Better Birth Team

By: Sierra Visser

February 13, 2023

Beautiful mature doula with natural grey hair examines a pregnant woman

Giving birth expends as much energy as running a marathon. And just like you would only run a marathon with training beforehand, there are exercises you can do to prepare for birth. But instead of a coach, you'll have your birth team. Your birth team exists to help you navigate pregnancy and labor and support your choices.

Let's say you've never put together a birth team before and are wondering where to start. Today we'll go over the three main positions to fill for your birth team's starting lineup.

Birthing Person

The birthing person is the leader of the team. After all, you can't have a birth team without someone giving birth. This person could be the baby's mother, gestational surrogate, birth parent before adoption, a transgender father or a non-binary parent. If you are not the birthing person, don't presume to know what the ideal labor and birth circumstances should be. And if you are the birthing person, don't allow anyone else to tell you what you want. This is your body and your birth; you are the boss in the birth room.


No birth team is complete without a doula, and although doulas have increased in popularity lately, many people still don't know what a doula is. Simply put, a doula is a birth professional – not a medical provider – who offers emotional, physical and informational support during pregnancy, labor and beyond. Most doulas' services include at least one prenatal visit and one postpartum visit, as well as continuous care throughout active labor. Some doulas provide more than one prenatal/postpartum visit, so be sure to ask what is included in their fee. Even if you have a partner who will support you during labor, studies have shown that a doula can significantly increase your likelihood of a positive birth outcome. Even the most supportive partner needs to rest, and a doula can ensure that you still get the care you need while your partner gets a break.

Midwife or Obstetrician

Finally, you'll want to choose the medical professional who will attend your birth. Many folks choose to give birth with the OB/GYN who does their annual check-ups, but there are many reasons someone might choose a different provider for their birth. The first step to finding the best attending provider for your birth is to decide which model of care aligns closest to your values and goals: the Midwifery Model of Care or the Medical Model of Care.

Midwifery Model of Care Medical Model of Care
Philosophy Birth is physiological. Birth is potentially pathological.
Interventions Medical interventions can cause more complications, and therefore are only used as needed. Medical interventions should be used, even in non-emergency situations and sometimes as preventative measures.
Decisions Birthing person is the key decision maker. Medical professional is the key decision maker.
Provider’s Role Providers monitor labor and will intervene or transfer to hospital if needed. Providers assess and control the birthing process.

Keep in mind that there can be overlap between these models, depending on the specific provider – some midwifery practices may follow the Medical Model of Care more closely, and some obstetrician practices may be closer to the Midwifery Model. When you’re interviewing potential providers to attend your birth, be sure to ask open-ended questions to help you determine which provider has values that align closest to your own.

If you choose to hire a midwife, you may want to ask about their credentials. Nevada only regulates Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM), so many midwives who practice in northern Nevada are licensed in California as Certified Professional Midwives (CPM). Other types of midwives include Certified Midwives (CM), Direct Entry Midwives (DEM) and Lay Midwives. While license requirements vary from state to state, and from one type of midwife to another, most midwives have gone through rigorous training to be able to safely attend births and to recognize if/when a hospital transfer is needed.

Whether you choose an obstetrician or a midwife to attend your birth, Renown has you covered. You can call Renown Women’s Health at (775) 982-5640 to schedule an appointment with either a CNM or an OB/GYN.

Additional Positions on the Birth Team

These are the main positions in a birth team, but there can certainly be more, ranging from birth photographers to endocrinologists to lactation consultants. Every birth is different, just as every birthing person is different. As you make your way through pregnancy, allow your existing birth team to guide you when the time may come to grow your team. Your medical provider will refer you to any specialists you might need, and your doula can recommend additional professionals you might want. No matter where you give birth or who is there with you, remember that your birth team is there to support you and your choices. Congratulations on your pregnancy, and may you embody the strength of everyone who has given birth before you, as you bring new life into this world.

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