The first trimester of pregnancy is the perfect time to be selective when choosing who will provide your prenatal care and attend your birth. Once you have decided on either a hospital, home, or birth center birth, you then must choose a care provider. It's not always the case that your existing obstetrician will be the best choice to care for you in pregnancy and birth. Considering that so much of what happens during birth rests upon your choice of care provider, it's critical to choose one who practices according to best, current evidence (not according to routines), and who will treat you as an active, decision-making partner in your care.
After you learn of your pregnancy, make an appointment with your regular provider, and go in asking questions beyond those related to confirming your pregnancy. Make sure the appointment is with the person (or one of the providers, as in the case of a group practice) who will be attending your birth, and not the nurse practitioner (as is sometimes the case for a first prenatal appointment. Take with you a list of questions to better evaluate your provider's preferences and practice style. Check out the following links for sample questions:
- Questions to ask when choosing your care provider
- How to interview and what questions to ask a midwife or doctor
- 10 things to ask your doctor or midwife in pregnancy
If asking questions like the ones in these links makes you uncomfortable, consider bringing your partner, a close friend, or family member with you for support. After your appointment, take some time to collect your thoughts, review the answers you were given, and listen to your intuition. If something is nagging at you about your provider, make an appointment with someone in another practice for comparison. Talk to friends, local doulas, and family members for referrals. Sometimes, it's hard to make a firm decision without anything to compare it to.
Changing care providers is possible at nearly any time during pregnancy, but it's much simpler in early pregnancy. Taking the time to evaluate your doctor or midwife from the beginning will help you better understand your own choices and preferences for labor and birth.