If you can it’s a good idea to interview your OB or midwife before you get pregnant, but even if you’re already expecting, you can still take some time to search for the right provider for you.
Often, when someone gets pregnant, they continue to go to the same person who has been providing their gynecological exams and while this may seem like the logical step, your GYN may not be the OB for you.
People report the highest levels of satisfaction with their birth experience when they feel heard, confident, and supported.
And the best way to achieve that within the medical system of the US is to have a supportive provider and birth setting.
There are many typical things that happen in birth, but every situation is unique and there are many things that cannot be predicted. It’s important to get a feel for how your provider practices and will support (or not support) you during those unexpected times.
So how do you get answers about circumstances you can’t foresee?
Asking open-ended questions can get at the heart of your provider’s philosophy and how they might respond during your pregnancy and birth.
“What type of testing and examination can I expect at my visits?”
Does the provider “require” things like cervical checks or non-stress tests? What do they consider “high risk?” If you are defined as “high risk” what does this mean for your wishes? Although there are some things that are mostly agreed upon, there is no standard definition for “low risk” in pregnancy, so this may be decided by the provider, by state guidelines or by insurance protocols.
“What does it look like when I go into labor?”
How and when do you call them? What does it look like when you get to the hospital? When do they join you at home? Answers to these questions can give you an idea if they have a standard procedure or take your individual needs into consideration.
“What are the circumstances under which you would suggest induction?” “Labor augmentation?”
How often do they induce clients? What type of inductions do they do? What do they consider “stalled labor?” This lets you know if they want you to deliver or progress in a certain time frame or if they are open to letting your baby and body be in the driver’s seat.
“Where can I find statistics and evidence for things you may suggest?”
Get a feel for how your provider sees evidence and the part it plays in birth. Do they just do what they’ve always done, or are they up-to-date on the latest research? Are they willing to share this with you or do they just want you to take their word for it?
“How do you handle unexpected problems that might arise during my pregnancy or labor?”
Again, see if they have one way of doing things or if they view births as unique. Do they include you in the decision-making process? How do they feel if it’s not an emergency and you do not want to do what they are suggesting? Can you be “fired” as a client?
Providers definitely have expertise and experience that you can benefit from – after all, that’s why you’re adding them to the team. But it’s important to remember that your preferences and concerns are an equal part of the equation. Watch for dismissive behaviors like short answers, questions about why you want to know something, or eye rolls. Any red flags during pregnancy are not likely to go away during birth – in fact things may likely get worse.