If you've just found out about your pregnancy, take a few moments to let it sink in... now go find an amazing OB or midwife! Seriously though, finding a good, qualified, well-matched care provider is critical to the health and well being of your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Don't assume that the OB you've always seen is the best fit for you in pregnancy and birth. Take the time to interview your existing doctor, as well as a few others from different practices.
Below, we've outlined our top questions to ask a care provider in pregnancy. The information you get back will help paint a picture of how your doctor practices and how she will care for you, which impacts healthy outcomes.
Interview Questions for Your OB or Midwife
Tell me about how you partner with your patients to achieve a safe and healthy birth? What's your role and what is mine?
> Maternity care is a partnership between the care provider and the pregnant person. It's important to know how your doctor works together with you to provide care and make decisions.
What kind of practices or interventions do you use routinely in labor and birth? In other words, if I have a healthy labor and birth, what can I expect to experience during my time in hospital/at home?
> Get to know what kinds of tools, practices, and interventions your potential care provider regularly uses. Some of these practices, when used routinely and without medical necessity, are not associated with better, healthier outcomes for mom and baby. They include:
- Electronic Fetal Monitoring
- Episiotomy (surgically cutting the area between the vagina and the anus, called the “perineum,” in order to make the vaginal opening larger)
- Induced labor
- Restricting women from eating and drinking freely
- Restricting movement
- Directed pushing
- Separating mom and baby
What percentage of your births are done by c-section? What are the reasons you perform c-sections?
> An acceptable c-section rate is less than 24% and a great c-section rate is between 10-15%. Your provider should know this information.
How often do you perform inductions? What are the reasons I might need an induction?
> Familiarize yourself with the medical reasons for induction. If your potential care provider's answers and routine practices differ, find out why. It may be a red flag.
Do you or have your worked with doulas? How do you feel about families using doulas for support?
> If your provider is against working with families who hire doulas, this could be a big red flag. If their opinion is negative, find out why.
What kinds of things do you do to personalize your care to meet mine and my baby's needs?
> Care in pregnancy, birth, and for newborns is not one-size-fits-all -- it should be customized to you and your baby's unique needs and health.
Keep in mind as you evaluate your care provider's answers that she works for you. While your provider is responsible for providing medical expertise, you are the expert in knowing your own body and self. A good doctor, OB, or midwife emphasizes your role and participation in your care throughout pregnancy and birth.