Questions to Ask Your Doctor or Midwife During Pregnancy

November 20, 2010 at 7:41 am (Doula, Education, Hospital Procedures, Informed Consent)

Your care provider and her or his philosophy about pregnancy and birth can shape the emotional tenor and physical experience of your labor and birth.  Ideally, you might want to interview three or four care providers before settling on one.  Here’s a short list of questions that you can ask providers- the answers will reveal something about both their practice and their personality, which can help you in making your decision.

If you already have a care provider, these questions can give you a sense of how your doctor or midwife likes to practice.  If her or his answers differ from your preferences, then you can begin a discussion to explore your options.  If there are any procedures that you would or wouldn’t like that are not in your care provider’s routine scope of care, you can request that whatever you’ve agreed on be noted in your chart, for future reference.  The information you glean from these questions is also helpful in constructing a birth plan.

Questions:

Do you have any recommendations for childbirth classes?

Are you likely to deliver my baby?  Can I meet your backup(s)?

What percentage of your patients deliver vaginally?  By Cesarean?

About how many patients out of 10 are induced?  How many go into labor naturally?

Have you worked with any doulas?  Are there any you could recommend for me?

What do you think of birth plans?

How long could I go with my amniotic sac broken before you’d want me in the hospital?

Do you do episiotomies?  If so, what would make you want to do one?

How often do you perform amniotomies (breaking the bag of water)?  Why do you do them?

How often do you perform cervical checks during labor?  What do you do if a client doesn’t want to be checked?

Are you comfortable with me eating and drinking during labor?

Are you comfortable with me walking and moving during labor?

How do you feel about natural, nondrugged labor?  Would you support me if I chose not to have an epidural?

Are you comfortable with me pushing in positions other than lying on my back or semi-sitting?

Will you deliver a baby in the water?

How do you manage the delivery of the placenta?

This is just a short list of questions.  You can find a more extensive list of questions here.  Remember that it’s not just what your care provider says when they answer your questions, but also how they answer, that’s important.  For instance, when asking about specific procedures, if your doctor says “Oh, all women in my practice…….”, then s/he might not have a lot of flexibility regarding your individual needs.  If your doctor is surprised that you would ask about unmedicated labor (“Why would you want to feel the pain?”), it might be a good time to question his/her belief in your body’s ability to give birth without intervention.  The best care providers are the ones who use their skill and knowledge appropriately, and balance the medical care they provide with the autonomous decision making of their clients.  You have the opportunity to find a care provider that fits well with your outlook and wishes.  Don’t hesitate to “shop around” until you find someone you feel really comfortable with!

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