In the USA, health care is consumer based and you have the right to choose your health care provider (although if you want your health insurance to cover the bills you may have more limited choices). Before you settle in with the birth care professional assigned to your care, be sure to thoroughly interview them to assure they are compatible with your beliefs and assure they will be respectful of your wishes throughout pregnancy and birth.
If you are going crazy looking for the right answer for how choose a birth care provider? The search comes to an end. You can always interview a few providers and see who you feel more comfortable with. Here are 5 questions to get a conversation started and choose the birth care provider without going crazy:
- Where do you practice? Which hospitals or birth centers are you affiliated with? Are they Baby Friendly? Do you attend home births? Where will my prenatal care occur? In the clinic? At home?
- What are your thoughts on a birth plan? If I have specific requests will you be able to accommodate them? Will the location I give birth be conductive to these requests? Try through this question to see how respectful, they may be towards your opinion? Will you be treated with care and individual attention or will you be the next “women in room 231.”
- How do you feel about ….. (Insert whichever specific request you may have doubts about; a doula in the room, delayed cord cutting, episiotomy, induction, planned cesarean). Here you will find if their beliefs and training, which will influence their practice, will jive with your wishes. If they stand firmly for or against something you feel strongly about it, is time to look for another provider.
- Will we be provided ample time for skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth and will my newborn is allowed to room in with me during my stay at the birth center or hospital? What if I have a cesarean? Will I still have the same options? Both of these practices are found to decrease risk of infection, increase initiation and duration of breastfeeding, and lessen the time it takes to adapt as a mother with a newborn. These are essentials.
- Do you have references? Just like anyone else has hired to work for us birth care providers should be able to provide references of their work. Don’t be intimidated, if they are honest about their answers to the previous questions they should be happy to recommend contacts or (due to privacy laws) have another mother contact you.
If you don’t agree with their answers, remember you are a consumer and have choices. You are paying them for their services; therefore if they value you as a customer and want to keep your business they should be willing to answer your questions, allay your doubts, and take the time to provide information and references. You always have the right to switch health care providers even at your due date (although they will probably disagree).
In the long run it is not worth a stressful pregnancy or birth due to mismatched provider/consumer preferences for either you or your health care professional. Find someone you feel confident in and who will make you confident in your pregnancy and birth.
What other questions did you find important when choosing your birth health care provider?