expectant parents standing together

The Birthing Experience

Helping Expectant Mothers Prepare with Confidence

Welcoming a new baby is full of happy moments for a family. It can also be a very daunting time as parents consume information about everything from birth plans to breastfeeding in preparation for their new addition. In order to feel confident in the process, most expectant mothers rely on the experience of their provider, the ability to choose care that fits their unique needs, and reassurance that they aren’t being exposed to any unnecessary risk.

Experienced Caregivers

“Caring for an expectant mother during pregnancy and while she gives birth is one of the greatest privileges medical providers get to enjoy,” said Amanda Kossak, MD, a family medicine provider at ThedaCare Physicians-Appleton North. “Generally, having a baby is one of the most exciting times in the life of a woman and her family. Being a part of that experience is an honor.”

Dr. Kossak chose family medicine as her medical specialty because of the many options it offers her throughout her career, including the option to do obstetrics care.

“My residency program had a very robust obstetrics program, Dr. Kossak noted. “We trained under obstetrician-gynecologists, and I connected well in working with expectant mothers and wanted to continue that in my practice.”

Whether a woman is a first-time mother or not, knowing they are in good hands from their first appointment through post-delivery is invaluable. Dr. Kossak is part of a team of trained caregivers committed to providing the care, comfort and education each woman deserves throughout her pregnancy.

Personalized Care

Dr. Kossak explained women have several options in choosing a medical provider to assist them during pregnancy and the birth of their child. Depending on a woman’s overall health, she may choose from any of the following care professionals:

  • Midwife: A person who may not have previous medical training, but has completed a midwifery course. Typically, these caregivers deliver at birthing centers or in private homes. Generally they don’t have hospital privileges and have limited ability to offer medications.
  • Nurse Midwife: Often a former nurse or nurse practitioner who had previous medical experience and then completed a nurse midwifery program. Nurse midwives often have hospital privileges. Many OB/GYN practices in the Fox Valley employ nurse midwives to provide care to expectant moms.
  • Family Medicine Provider: Specifically, one who provides obstetrics care. There is a one-year fellowship program that family medicine providers may take after their residency to become trained to do C-sections, which gives them greater privileges.
  • OB-GYN: Providers thoroughly trained to care for all levels of pregnancy and all women’s reproductive health issues. OB-GYNs are the best choice for moms with more significant health concerns, or those who have had previous high-risk pregnancies, previous C-sections, or those expecting multiples.

OB/GYNs, family medicine providers and nurse midwives all follow the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology Standard of Care Guidelines in providing care to expectant moms. Some families may choose to receive care from a family medicine provider during pregnancy because that same provider can continue to care for your baby after birth.

“A woman should feel empowered to choose whatever type of care she feels will meet her needs,” said Dr. Kossak. “Having a child is a very personal experience, and different women have different wishes.”

Protection from Risk

At the top of any expectant mother’s mind is the desire to shield herself and her unborn child from any potential risk. This has become particularly important amid the uncertainty of COVID-19. According to Dr. Kossak, pregnant women are not at a greater risk of contracting the virus.

“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no data showing that COVID-19 affects pregnant people differently than others,” she said. “As long as expectant mothers follow the recommended protocol of wearing a face mask when in public, maintaining social distancing and frequent hand washing, their risk is no greater than anyone else.”

That said, there are changes being made to the way prenatal care and delivery are managed, including:

  • Typically only one support person is allowed to join an expectant mom for prenatal visits, ultrasounds and during delivery. This is being done to reduce the risk of an asymptomatic person bringing COVID-19 into a medical facility and/or infecting mom or baby.
  • After the baby is born, grandparents, siblings or other family and friends are not permitted to visit.
  • COVID-19 testing is administered for patients prior to labor/C-section. If a woman does test positive, the medical professionals caring for her and the woman’s support person will be gowned in full personal protective gear.
  • Handwashing, masking and distancing protocols for interaction between an infected mom and her baby to prevent the baby from possibly contracting the virus.

“We understand it can be difficult for families who want to share those happy moments,” said Dr. Kossak. “I’ve noticed a lot more texting, sending of photos, and other online interactions to let people meet the new baby.”

ThedaCare birth center teams have been working closely with each family to make decisions based on the clinical condition of each patient, ensuring safety for all after birth.

Dr. Kossak noted that pandemic or no pandemic, giving birth doesn’t really change, it just might look slightly different.

“Medicine is a field of continuous learning and discovery; as we learn new information we make changes in prenatal care, delivery and neonatal care,” she said. “That’s why it’s important that expectant moms have confidence in whomever they choose to care for them during this special time in their lives. They need to be assured they are getting the best, most up-to-date care possible.”