Choosing Your Birth Team

I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a great birth team to make your dream birthing experience a reality. In my own water birth story, I shared the names of the people behind that unforgettable birth, but I wasn’t able to expound the roles they played in each stage of my pregnancy, and birth. I intentionally did that as I believe they deserve to have their own write-up as well.

Your OB-Gyne

There are so many factors you have to consider in choosing your primary health care provider for your pregnancy. In my first pregnancy with Matilda, we were still based in Davao and I didn’t get the chance to actually choose an OB. We just went with who had an open clinic at the time we went to the hospital.

With my second pregnancy, knowing in my heart I wanted a gentle birthing experience this time around, I made an effort to ask people in my circle, on whom they would recommend. At the top of their list was Dra. Menefrida Reyes, and I am just so blessed I decided to go for her.

Here are some of the major considerations before I chose my OB (and Pediatrician too).

1. She/He had to be a follower of God.

2. With clinic schedule on a Saturday – only time Joey can accompany me.

3. Had to be practicing in a reputable hospital that is Mother and Baby-friendly.

4. With good experiences from previous patients.

5. Low rate of recorded CS

6. With a reasonable Professional Fee.

7. Patiently answers questions during check-ups and does not rush the consultation time.

9. Provides mobile number in case of emergency.

10. Conservative in terms of treatments and medical interventions.

11. Respects the birth plan/preferences of the couple.

12. With a positive outlook, in general.

13. Goes to the clinic on-time.

14. Lastly, one who would be open on having Matilda with us during Labor.

These are just what came to mind as of this writing. Dra. Reyes being able to perform water birth was just a big bonus. I actually didn’t know of it and decided to go through it, until I was already under her care. I was originally set on having a Lamaze Birth.

I have fond memories of my prenatal check-ups with Dra. Reyes. Her very warm personality was what drew my family close to her. We felt secure knowing she waa truly concerned about me and the baby, and not just doing her job for profit. She is really very compassionate.

During my labor and delivery, Dra. Reyes patiently attended to my needs. She was very calm and encouraging and I never felt pressured in any way. It was a great deal that every single detail in my birth plan was perfectly honored as well. She also prayed with me, and for me through the difficult parts. And together, we all rejoiced in the blessing of Tulip Mileina’s life through a successful water birth.

I really have nothing but nice words to say about Dra. Reyes, and if you’d still ask if I would recommend her? Of course, it’s a BIG YES!

Your Baby’s Pediatrician

Matilda being born in Davao also had to switch Peditricians when we moved back here in Manila. Her current Pedia is practicing at Cardinal Santos Medical Center and could not cross over to St. Luke’s for the birth of our second child.

I have a really high standard in choosing my child’s doctor. It had to be someone I could completely entrust my child’s well-being. This also means that we have the same views when it comes to child care which includes the most important aspect of all, that is breastfeeding.

Nearing my expected date of delivery, I still haven’t chosen a Pediatrician. Ideally, you’d want to meet him/her at least once before you give birth. This is to discuss your preferences on how your baby will be taken care of after the birth. Some of which include Unang Yakap, Delayed Cord Clamping, Breastfeeding, Immunizations, Newborn Screening, and all other tests.

Upon meeting Dra. Reyes on my 38th week, I asked her recommendation for a Pediatrician. She only gave me one name, it was Dra. Maria Luisa Manlapaz. I haven’t heard of her before, but Dra. Reyes said she is good. Because I trust Dra. Reyes, I scheduled a meeting with her. Her clinic schedule for that week was already full so I settled to have it on my 39th week instead.

On the day I was supposed to meet her for the first time, my labor has finally started. I was thinking of just informing her secretary about it but Dra. Reyes gave me her personal number so I can contact her directly. Without thinking twice, I sent her a message informing her of my current situation and that I would really appreicate if she can be present for the birth of my child. I wasn’t expecting a reply at all but I was so surprised, she immediately answered back with a, “Yes, of course, I will be there”. I was so happy and I felt relieved knowing that we’ll have her present during the birth of Mileina.

While on the tub, I think I was around 8cm at that time, I met Dra. Manlapaz for the first time. Like Dra. Reyes, she too had a very warm personality and a follower of God as well. She stayed with us through that very difficult part of labor and personally took care of my baby after she came out of the water. She was the one making sure that baby is dry and warm enough to be with me while we wait for the cord to stop pulsating.

After cutting the cord, she borrowed our baby and checked on her in the room, while I deliver the placenta and clean myself up. It was just 5-10 minutes when she came back to remind us we had to move quickly as baby is already rooting, a cue that she already wanted to breastfeed. This made me really happy that she was very concerned about a good start in breastfeeding. Kudos to Dra. Manlapaz!

She gave me a go signal to go home the next day as long as baby is okay. She also allowed all vaccines to be given 12hrs after the birth, as it was my personal request to delay everything concerning tests and vaccines, if possible. She, too, was very happy about us using cloth diapers and told me this is a great way to monitor the baby’s urine output. Isn’t she the BEST?? I just love her! We are really aligned with everything! I am very thankful that Dra. Reyes recommended her to us.

Your Doula

If it’s your first time to hear the word Doula, let me give you a brief explanation about her.

The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves” and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period. – DONA International

There are so many reasons why every mother should get a doula. I would like to share with you my own personal reasons, for you to have an idea.

1. I wanted to have a Lamaze Birth the first time, but I failed due to so many external factors. I needed more evidence-based information, and a one on one prenatal session with a doula can provide me with that.

2. My birth plan wasn’t followed because I had no strength physically and emotionally to fight for it. A doula will act as your voice, your protector, who will try her best to ensure that your birth wishes, as long as it is safe, will be honored.

3. A strong physical and emotional support is vital to achieve a natural birth. Though Joey was with me, I needed someone else who understood and knew how to cope with the pain. A doula is the perfect person to encourage you and guide you through it.

4. Admittedly, I have a very low tolerance for pain. With the help of a doula, she can coach you how to use that pain to your advantage, to bring about a better (and quicker!) birthing experience.

5. To have a natural childbirth wasn’t an option for me, but a necessity. Having a doula around would remind me of this, during times I feel like giving up.

6. I find comfort in knowledge but, good birthing books are expensive and hard to find. If you are bookworm like me, your doula would normally give you free access to her library, as part of her services.

Ms. Velvet Roxas, is someone I admire and respect in a whole other level. She was the person who opened my eyes to the reality of infant and child-care, specifically, breastfeeding. I learned so much as I had my training, and it changed our perspective and whole lives, as a family ever since. Like her, I have taken breastfeeding as an advocacy, which I also share frequently here in my blog.

Because I know her personally, her beliefs and stand on many areas involving mother and child, it was so easy for me to decide on getting her as my doula. In fact, I informed her of my desire to get her services even before I had my first prenatal check-up! That is proof enough on how badly I wanted a natural birth right from the start.

There are very few doulas here in the Philippines, and Ms. Velvet, who I jokingly call “Madam V”, (others call her “Diva Velvet”) who has a very bubbly, BUT strict personality, is the only one who is DONA Certified. She is also the very first mother who have given birth in the water at Asian Hospital, 8 years ago. (Asian Hospital has no waterbirth facility anymore). It’s not because of her great credentials that I got her as my doula. It was mainly because I know she has a big heart and that her life revolves around mothering other mothers. I understand her and I believe we get along really well that’s why it wasn’t a difficult decision to have her on my side. I actually needed her (very) “strict” side to guide me through those difficult moments, because she can actually scare me at times! Side note and trivia: On my 5th month, we attended a seminar and there were so much food at the venue. She was checking on me if I was eating sweets!! She was my food police! (Madam V, please don’t get mad at me for this! I love you! Haha!) Which I truly appreciate as I know she only wants what is best for me.

I owe Ms. Velvet a big part on the success of my water birth because she armed me with so much information, and she was with me the entire time. She also patiently answered all my questions and checked up on me once in a while. During my actual labor, she stood beside me, fed me, took care of me, bathe me, and literally carried me throughout the toughest times. God used her mightily as an extension of His blessing.

Your Birth Photographer

I love taking photos in general, and the birth, for me, is a celebration of life that needs to be captured in the lenses of a camera. Originally, I had planned to get professional services from trained birth photographers/videographers, however, I found their rates quite too high and we just could not afford it. It was a blessing that Dra. Raissa Paje-Bayawa, a new Pediatrician friend through Ms. Velvet, who just actually wanted to be there to observe the birth, offered to capture the photos. And the result? Well, just like a PRO! Thanks again Dra. Raissa!

I believe that all these people were divinely appointed by God, so that I could experience the birth He has planned and designed perfectly for me. Truly, by His grace, He gave me the chance to meet them all so that together, we can glorify Him alone. Indeed, this birth was orchestrated beautifully, not for my personal benefit, but for Him! All Glory and Praises to our King!

My Birth Team

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Left to right: Myself an hour after the birth, Dra. Maria Luisa Manlapaz, Ms. Velvet Roxas, Dra. Menefrida Reyes, and Dra. Raissa Paje-Bayawa.