One of the most important factors in determining how your birth goes (particularly in regards to medical interventions, procedures, and medications) depends upon whom you choose to be your prenatal provider. Of course, there are many providers out there, often with differing views of childbirth, regardless if they are a midwife or doctor (for example, some providers take a very medical view of birth, seeing it as so unpredictable that it is safest and best to use many medical procedures during birth regardless if they are needed or not; while others may believe that birth is a normal physiological process and that medical intervention should only be used when problems are suspected or detected). Therefore, as the patient it is YOUR responsibility to make this choice deliberately and selectively, ensuring that your provider’s philosophy and management style aligns with what feels best and right to you. The only way to get a sense of how a particular provider will manage your birth is to ask them pointed questions. We interview nannies, wedding planners, Realtors, and even house cleaners, yet many of us neglect to interview the person we choose to manage our births. Just with any other important event, we must be “smart shoppers”!
You will quickly get a sense if you are with the right provider by asking the any of the following questions (even just 3-5 questions should give you a good feel):
How often am I likely to see you during my labor?
How many providers are in your practice? How likely is it that you’ll be present for my birth? Can I meet all of the providers prior to giving birth?
How does the on-call schedule work at your practice?
What are your thoughts on doulas?
What labor procedures do you do routinely?
What is *your* cesarean rate? What is your *hospital’s* cesarean rate? What is the most common reason for these cesareans?
Can I give birth in a squatting position or on hands and knees, if that feels best to me?
What is your induction rate? What induction methods do you use?
At what point in my pregnancy, should I go beyond 40 weeks, will there be discussion on induction?
Under what scenario would you want to augment my labor with medication?
How will you (and your practice) support me in my desire to have an unmedicated birth?
Can I eat and drink while in labor?
What natural methods do you suggest to alleviate labor pain?
Why did you choose to become a midwife or OBGYN? What is most rewarding to you about this work?
Can you tell me what the first few minutes after birth will look like for me and my baby?
Ultimately, after considering your birth preferences and asking the questions that feel most important to you, you should have a very clear sense if you are with the right provider. Red flags would be a provider who is irritated, defensive, or annoyed by your questions or one who provides scare-tactics, sarcasm, or patronizing answers. If that’s the case, keep shopping! Ideally, with the right fit, your provider will be pleased to answer ANY questions you have with patience, respect, and openness. Remember, YOU are the paying customer here. Pay attention to your intuition and don’t settle until you feel 100% supported.