Congratulations! You're having a baby! Now what? Finding a care provider is usually the first step you'd think of after taking an at home test, right? Maybe you are thinking of keeping your provider of well women care. Maybe they don't catch babies anymore. Maybe you'd like to explore other options. Maybe you're just overwhelmed by it all! I feel you, friend. I really do! It's so common to see that white coat or a clean set of scrubs and feel intimidated or not in control. However, I want you to drop those thoughts sweetheart! Let's look at some important questions to ask when you're considering an OB as your care provider.
What is your main goal as my care provider? There's the generic and obvious answer of "healthy mom, healthy baby", but what does that mean to them? Do they want this to be a positive and supported experience? Bonus points if they can share examples of what that looks like in their care!
How many people are in your practice? Are you in town/planning a trip/on vacation during my full-term time frame? These are rather common and straight forward things to ask. It's important to know how often they catch their own patients babies and the likelihood that you may end up with a different care provider come game time.
What does informed consent look like to you? Pay close attention here! Watch for a change in body language or facial expression or tone. Ideally, you'd hear something like this...."Well, I prefer to take time to explain the benefits and risks, answer questions, and then they make the best decision for them."
Do you feel pregnancy and birth is normal or is it something you need to manage to make safe? A lot of western medicine leans toward pregnancy and birth being viewed as an illness. Make sure that your care providers thoughts here align with your own.
What are some situations where you may want to monitory baby more closely? The reality is that if you are healthy and considered low-risk, non continuous monitoring should be standard. This will help give you a clear picture of what they'd expect and how it could impact your freedom of movement during labor.
How would you handle my labor stalling? Gold star if they respond with something like "That's something that can happen and is normal. I will be patient as long as you and baby are healthy."
Under what circumstances would you suggest inducing labor? Pay attention if any of this aligns with their answers to question 2. The recommendation from ACOG is no elective inductions before 39 weeks.
What are your thoughts on eating and drinking during labor? If you are low-risk, happy, and healthy, you should be able to eat and drink freely during labor based on evidence.
How do you feel about additional support such as a doula? Watch closely for a negative reaction. Dig deeper with follow up questions to better gauge if this is due to a negative experience or if they would feel threatened with you having advocacy. Maybe ask if they have a list of doulas they work with locally!
What are your induction, cesarean, and epidural rates? This is a good thing to look into in regards to where you birth as well! This gives great insight into how they lean with interventions vs allowing natural labor progression.
How would describe or define "natural birth"? What does this trigger in you? What feelings does their answer bring up?
What position do you prefer during pushing/catching baby? Their response may or may not align with your desires. Dig deeper and see if you're comfortable with what they'd push for.
What philosophy do you have around pain relief? See if they mention epidurals straight away or if they bring up other options and methods. Trust your instinct!
What is it that you like about the hospital you deliver at? What do you dislike? This will give you a good idea of the pros and cons of the facilities, staff, and even food. Hah!
How comfortable are you advocating for me? Whether it's with nursing staff or with anesthesiologists in an OR. A good care provider should want to advocate for you and your wishes. Not just push their own agenda or for a speedy process.
Trust your instincts here and listen to your gut! Have your partner, spouse, a trusted friend, or a parent with you a second set of ears and eyes. This season in your life is already filled with so many "what ifs" and fear and worry...your care provider shouldn't be one of them! Start now and early with advocating for yourself! Ask follow up questions on anything that seems vague. See if they are answering you with facts or feelings or canned responses. Pay close attention to red flags such as defensiveness, manipulation, or talking down to you during this time. If they do it now, they will likely do it down the road as well.
Above all, dear one, know that this is YOUR choice and YOUR pregnancy. Find some one who will protect that and make this the best experience possible!