YOUR Perfect Birth Team: The Medical Provider

I often get questions from friends and clients about local midwives and obstetricians. Usually they want to know if I think a particular provider is the right one for them. My answer is always the same: It doesn’t matter what I think. It matters that *you* feel confident in their care and support of your individualized birth plan. Most moms do not find this helpful and are sometimes disappointed in this answer but as a doula it is not my job to put my ideas and opinions into someone else’s birth. It is my job to help expecting parents to find the resources that they need so that they can make well informed decisions that fit their needs and wishes in order to take charge of their birth experience.

While I do not give specific recommendations about the midwives and obstetricians in my area, I do give parents ideas of questions to ask and things to consider when choosing a provider and/or deciding if a change in provider is best for mom and baby.

  • Consider what hospitals/birth centers they have privileges at. While the provider makes a difference in the overall pregnancy and birth experience the birthing facility and their policies will have a big impact as well. I will cover more about choosing a birth location in a later post.
  • What does the practice website look like? Does it focus more on what they can do for high risk pregnancies? Gynecological care? Natural/low intervention birth? Surgical birth? How does that focus fit into your birth plan?
  • How many providers are in the practice and do they share call for births with another practice? If they have a large number of providers or share call with another practice you may have someone you have never met on call when you go into labor. Is that something that you are comfortable with?
  • When you ask questions at your appointments do you feel comfortable with the amount of time that the nurses and doctors/midwives spend answering you and giving you information to help with any concerns you may have.
  • Do you have hesitation about one or more provider in the practice? Remember that you don’t have any control over who is on call when you go into labor.
  • Have you spoken with each of the providers about your birth plan using open ended questions and non leading statements? Did you get a positive and supportive reaction?
  • What reasons would the practice have for recommending an induction or scheduled surgical birth?
  • If you have chosen a homebirth who is the back up doctor for your midwife? Are you comfortable being in their care should you need it? What hospital would that have you birthing at?

Some other things that may be worth considering are:

  • The location of the office. During the course of your pregnancy you will have many prenatal appointments. If the location is not convenient or difficult for you to get to it may be a reason to consider another practice.
  • What do other moms say about the provider? You can use social media such as local Facebook mom groups, online reviews, or any number of other resources to find out what other moms have to say. I do encourage you to be mindful of the reasons that a provider is or is not being recommended and know that a provider that is right for one mom may not be right for another. For this reason recommendations from other moms should only be used as a jumping off point and not as the deciding factor.

Perhaps the most important thing to consider when choosing a practice is what mom’s instincts are telling her. No matter how perfect a provider might seem, if a mom is hesitant about the care she is receiving, personalities of the medical professionals, or anything else she should take that gut feeling seriously.

If for any reason a mom does not feel confident in her practice it is always acceptable to make a switch. Even at 40 weeks pregnant. Knowing that she has put together the best birth team for her and her baby is a key part in her feeling positive and empowered by her birth experience for years to come.

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