So you found out you’re expecting a little bundle of joy. Congratulations! What next? One of the most important times of any woman’s life is bringing life into the world. There are a million and one decisions to be made and some of them have to be made rather quickly. Along with the usual considerations of how to plan for a new addition, there is one that sometimes doesn’t get as much thought as it should: which provider to choose. Choosing a great healthcare provider can often times be the difference in a great birth experience and one that is memorable for the wrong reasons. Really! So take the time to ask these important questions from the start so there are minimal surprises when it’s time to welcome your bundle of joy!
What is your philosophy on birth?
Whether you are planning a natural, un-medicated birth, a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), water birth, medicated birth (epidural) or a planned Cesarean, it is important to know if your provider is supportive. Does his/her views match your own desires for your birth? Are they open to talk about the options available to you? If you find the provider is unwilling to speak about certain methods or procedures, belittles your requests, or simply deflects from answering questions all together, it may be time to reexamine the choice of provider.
What are your statistics for procedures such as Cesarean sections, episiotomy, forceps, vacuum extraction, induction, stripping of membranes?
Every provider should have these statistics available to you. Why are these things important? Well, for example: if a doctor has a C-section rate of 47%, barring someone who routinely works with high risk pregnancies, what is the likelihood that you will end up with a C-section? Of course there are many factors that play a role in contributing to the rate, but it would definitely be worth further discussion if that is a procedure you are trying to avoid.
What are your views on estimated due dates?
Is your due date carved in stone or is it a flexible guideline? What is the procedure if you go beyond your estimated due date? This is important to know for many reasons. For one, it can determine whether labor will be allowed to naturally progress or if there will be suggestions for measures such as induction to get labor started. Are those policies in line with your vision for your pregnancy?
Will you be present during labor & birth?
In many practices, the providers rotate on call schedules so you want to know who will be attending your actual birth. Why is this important? If your primary provider will not be at the birth, you want to know if the other providers share his/her same philosophies. Can you meet them beforehand? That may help to ease any apprehension about meeting a provider for the very first time at your birth.
How do you handle laboring time during birth? Are there time constraints?
Usually this question is phrased as “how long will you let me labor?” It can also be referred to as being “on the clock.” The importance of this question lies in that labor is an unpredictable thing; it can take a few hours or a few days. Will labor be allowed to progress naturally, will you be given a time frame in which it’s considered normal to deliver, and what is the procedure should you go past that time frame?
This is by no means an all-inclusive list of topics to discuss with your care provider, but it should get you off to a good start in knowing how your preferences align with the their practice. The purpose is to open the lines of communication with someone you will be spending a considerable amount of time with and who will share in one of the most important times of your life. Choosing a great provider is just one step in the process of preparing for your new addition, but it is one that can have a huge impact! Listen to your intuition. Listen to the answers and determine if they are truly in line with your desires. Take your time; choice of provider can greatly impact the birth experience. Lastly, do not be afraid to walk away! There is a good fit out there for everyone!
For help in navigating through the myriad of decisions involved in birth, please feel free to contact me at A Beautiful Creation Doula! Visit my website at www.abeautifulcreationdoula.com
Jennifer Rivera, owner of A Beautiful Creation Doula, is a birth doula and consultant serving the Greater Atlanta area.