Whether you’re hoping to birth in a hospital, birth center, or your own home, in a tub or on dry land, with an epidural or medication free, surgically or vaginally, you want to be sure that the midwife, OB, or family physician who attends your delivery is a great match. Although you won’t know exactly how your care provider will behave until you’re in labor, asking questions about their approach and paying close attention to how they speak to you throughout your pregnancy will give you an idea how they’ll be when the time comes.
The language you choose when discussing your birth plan with your provider is hugely important. Instead of asking what they’ll “allow” you to do, ask instead what they’re comfortable with or how they generally practice. Frame things in terms of your birth team working together and being on the same page rather than your provider being in charge of the situation and everyone deferring to him or her. If you introduce a power dynamic, your voice is diminished.
In order to learn more about your care provider’s approach, consider asking the following questions. Remember that the “correct” responses are completely up to you depending on what you want for your baby’s birth.
Will you support me wanting to push baby out in position X?
Will you support me wanting to eat during labor?
Will you support occasional fetal monitoring?
Will you support limited to no cervical checks during labor?
If you’d like to avoid medical pain management...
What are some of the pain medication alternatives that you suggest for birthing women?
What percentage of your patients deliver naturally without medication or intervention?
If you’d like to avoid an induction...
At what point in my pregnancy would you suggest an induction?
Would you be comfortable with me going into labor on my own, even if I get to 42 weeks?
If an induction becomes necessary, what does that process look like?
If my water breaks but labor does not start right away, what timeframe would you suggest before starting an induction?
If you’re planning a Cesarean birth...
Will my doula be able to stay with me through surgery prep?
Do you have clear drapes available?
I’d like to have skin to skin contact and/or breastfeed in the OR as long as my baby is doing well. Is that something you’ll support?
If you’re concerned about the hospital’s reputation...
What is the hospital’s policy on X?
Are the nurses willing to work with doulas?
If we don’t feel respected by our nurse, will it be possible to request a change?
Does the hospital provide birth balls/birthing stools/birth bars/aromatherapy/massage/etc?
If you’re concerned your provider might not be at your birth...
Will your partners support my birth plan?
Will you be available for a phone consultation with the OB/midwife/physician on call if you cannot attend?
Do you labor sit often? How much time will you spend with me while I’m in labor?
If you’re interested in water birth...
What percentage of your patients have had water births?
Will you support a water birth?
Do your partners support and attend water births?
Would you support my partner entering the tub with me?
Your provider’s tone when addressing your concerns is also important. If they seem dismissive or annoyed by your questions, that should tell you how they feel about working together as a team. Unfortunately, there are providers out there who want submissive patients who don’t make a fuss, don’t ask questions, and do whatever their doc tells them to do. That approach will not work for you. It doesn’t work for anyone except the doc.
This is your experience. It’s the birth of your baby. Your provider is there to keep you and your baby safe. Use your voice and make sure you team up with someone you can trust to support you.
The list above is by no means comprehensive. What questions have you asked your provider? How did you know she or he was the right (or wrong!) fit? Comment below or send me a message!