How do you know your provider is right for you and your birthing desires/goals? Will they support you or are they just tolerant of what you want? Will they give informed consent AND/OR refusal?
Not all providers are created equal.
You'll be able to answer these questions by interviewing providers! Choosing the right provider is crucial for a smooth and healthy pregnancy, birth, and postpartum journey and because of their importance to your experience, it's vital to talk to and interview as many as you need to, to feel 100% supported and excited. Your provider will be a HUGE part of your team throughout this special time by providing medical care, support, and guidance - you need to be able to trust they have your best interest at heart.
In this post, we will outline some key questions to ask your potential provider when deciding if they are a great fit for you. The key is to frame questions in a way that requires them to answer MORE than just yes/no.
Please leave any questions you've asked that I've left out, below!
Here are the Top 15 Questions for Your Provider: Choosing the Perfect One
1. What is your approach to prenatal care?
Understanding your provider's approach to prenatal care is essential. Ask about the frequency of appointments, the tests they typically recommend, and their philosophy on managing pregnancy-related issues. This will help you determine if their approach aligns with your preferences and expectations.
2. What is your experience and specialization?
Inquire about your provider's experience in handling pregnancies, especially if you have any specific concerns or medical conditions. Ask about their specialization, training, and certifications related to obstetrics/midwifery. It's important to feel confident that your provider has the knowledge and expertise to support you throughout your pregnancy.
3. What is your availability and backup plan?
Find out about your provider's availability during your pregnancy. Ask how they handle emergencies or off-hours situations. Understanding their backup plan and who will cover for them in case they are unavailable is crucial for your peace of mind.
4. What is your stance on birth plans/preferences and interventions? What about inductions? Doulas?
If you have specific preferences for your birth experience, discuss them with your provider. Inquire about their perspective on birth plans, their approach to pain management, and their stance on interventions such as inductions or cesarean sections. Ask them if they support your having a doula (if you plan to have one). It's important to ensure that your provider respects your wishes and supports your desired birth experience as much as possible.
5. How do you handle communication and patient involvement?
Effective communication is key to a positive doctor-patient relationship. Ask your provider about their preferred mode of communication (phone, email, in-person), average response times, and their willingness to involve you in decision-making processes. Feeling heard and involved in your own care is crucial for a positive pregnancy experience.
6. What is your philosophy on postpartum care?
Postpartum care is an essential aspect of your overall well-being after childbirth. Inquire about your provider's approach to postpartum care, including the frequency of follow-up visits, available resources for postpartum support, and their perspective on mental health issues such as postpartum depression.
7. How do you handle high-risk pregnancies?
If you have a high-risk pregnancy due to medical conditions or previous complications, it's important to discuss this with your provider. Ask about their experience in managing high-risk pregnancies, their collaboration with specialists if needed, and their approach to monitoring and minimizing risks.
8. What is your approach to pain management during labor?
Labor and delivery can be accompanied by varying levels of pain/discomfort and it's important to discuss your provider's approach to pain management. Inquire about the available options such as epidurals, nitrous oxide, or alternative methods like water births or hypnobirthing. Understanding their stance on pain relief will help you make informed decisions about your birth plan.
9. How do you handle emergencies during delivery?
While no one wants to think about complications during childbirth, it's essential to discuss how your provider handles emergencies if they arise. Ask about their experience with emergency situations, their access to necessary medical facilities, and their protocols for handling complications during delivery.
10. What is your stance on breastfeeding and newborn care?
If you plan to breastfeed your baby, it's important to know your provider's perspective on breastfeeding. Ask about their support for breastfeeding, available lactation resources, and their approach to newborn care in the early days of your baby's life. Understanding their views on breastfeeding and newborn care will help you determine if they align with your goals and preferences.
11. Can you provide references or testimonials from previous patients?
Asking for references or testimonials from previous patients can give you valuable insights into the provider's practice. Hearing about other peoples' experiences, especially those who had similar needs or concerns to yours, can help you assess the provider's competence, bedside manner, and overall patient satisfaction.
12. How do you approach shared decision-making?
Shared decision-making involves collaborating with your provider in making informed choices about your care. Inquire about their approach to shared decision-making and whether they encourage open discussions and respect your preferences. A doctor who values your input and involves you in the decision-making process is more likely to create a positive and empowering birthing experience.
13. What is your philosophy on natural childbirth or alternative birthing methods?
If you have a preference for natural childbirth or alternative birthing methods such as home birth or birth center deliveries, discuss your desires with your provider. Ask about their experience and openness to supporting these options. Understanding their philosophy on natural childbirth will help you determine if they are a good fit for your birth preferences.
14. What is your personal c-section rate and what is the c-section rate where you attend births?
It is important to know this bit of information. If you want to avoid a c-section, you will want to find a provider with a lower c-section rate at a hospital with a low c-section rate. Leapfrog is a great resource to corroborate what the provider says and shares the hospital's overall grade. Link, here.
15. What is your philosophy on TOLACs and VBACs? How do you support VBA2C? VBA3C?
If you have had a previous c-section and are looking for a VBAC or vaginal birth after cesarean, it is absolutely CRUCIAL you find a provider who is not only tolerant, but is 100% confident in your ability to TOLAC. Find a provider who understands that the VBAC calculator is inaccurate and that it matters more, your personal reasons for the initial c-section and VBAC. Ask them if they know ACOGs stance on VBACs and how safe VBACs truly are (for most, safer than repeat cesareans). This will give you a feel on their stance and their true level of support. Here is some evidence on VBAC!
Choosing the right provider is a significant decision for your pregnancy journey. By asking these important questions, you can gather essential information to determine if a provider is the right fit for you. Remember, it's crucial to find a provider who not only has the necessary expertise but also aligns with your preferences, values, and desires for your pregnancy and birth experience. Take the time to find a provider who makes you feel comfortable, supported, and confident throughout this special time in your life.
NOTE: Remember, these questions serve as a starting point for your discussion with your provider. Feel free to add any additional queries that are important to you and address any specific concerns or needs you may have. Building a trusting and open relationship with your provider will contribute to a positive and memorable pregnancy and birthing experience.