Now that you’ve celebrated with your partner and begun to let the news sink in that you’re newly pregnant, you’ll need to choose an Obstetrician or Midwifery practice to handle your prenatal visits. While that might seem like a simple task, there can be dozens (if not hundreds) of options local to you.
So, how to make the best choice for your family?
Choosing a Birth Provider
Don’t worry - you don’t have to have it all figured out, or resign yourself to calling the first practice that pops up in Google. Here are some things to consider when choosing a provider for your birth.
Hospital, Birth Center, or Home Birth
This is your first big question, because it will definitely narrow down your care provider options.
Now might be a good time to do a bit of research on your birthing preferences in terms of location, the pros and cons of delivering in each of the three scenarios, whether you have a longer or shorter postpartum stay, etc. If you’re not certain where you stand, our guide on the three types of locations will give you a snapshot.
Location of Office
This matters more than the proximity of your birthing location! You’ll be attending quite a few prenatal visits, ultrasound appointments, testing and scans over the next nine months, so finding an office that’s easy to get to - and that has a variety of appointment times and low waits - is key.
Cesarean and Intervention Rates
It’s always a great idea to ask your potential practice for their rate of Cesarean, when they are likely to intervene and induce labor, etc. to get an understanding of their policies and practices, and how they align with your preferences for birth. It may seem like a question to ask down the line, but if you don’t want to worry about certain practice policies in nine months, you’ll want to know that information now.
Personality and Bedside Manner
While it might not be a huge factor in your experience, how much time you have for questions with your provider at each visit, their enthusiasm for taking care of your pregnancy, and concern with your birthing preferences can go a long way in helping you feel supported when questions do occur, or if you need to call into the office.
Does the office on call line have a long wait time for returning questions?
How can you get in contact with the office quickly for test results and non emergent questions?
How the office staff and ongoing, in between visits, care makes you feel is also important.
Insurance and Co Pay Acceptance
Birth in and out of hospital comes with a hefty out of pocket price tag, so discussing not only if the practice falls under your insurance policy, but what their co pay for visits, procedures, hospital stay extensions and extra care involves can really play into your decision making. If there are hidden fees or parts of their care that aren’t covered by your insurance and you fall in love with the practice, it will help you set your budget now.
Group Vs. Individual Practitioner
If you’re choosing a group practice, you might feel comforted knowing the size of the call rotation of providers, if they’re aligned by a common mission statement or philosophy of labor and delivery, or if they differ from each other in certain standards and policies. Many women get very attached to a single provider in a group, or see one provider operating solo; that’s great, as long as you understand what is more important is the long term relationship of care during pregnancy and after baby, not necessarily during your birth.
Questions to Ask a Birth Provider
How many providers are in your practice?
What is the likelihood you will be on all for my birth?
How can I reach you after hours if necessary?
How many deliveries does the practice handle per month?
Do you ever have to reroute to another practice or hospital when overcrowded or overbooked?
What is your policy regarding induction as a practice?
How do you assist with second stage (pushing) management?
What do you consider a birth emergency?
What is your cesarean rate? In primary births?
How many ultrasounds do your order?
What are your thoughts on first trimester/ invasive genetic testing?
Do you routinely test at the end of pregnancy for preeclampsia and/ or tests of fetal well being?
What are your thoughts on cervical exams in pregnancy?
Why did you become involved in Obstetrics?
How do you feel about pain management?
When do you like your patients to come into the hospital in labor?
What does informed consent mean to you?
What is the practice’s philosophy or mission statement regarding birth?
Do you recommend any birth classes?
How do you feel about me having a doula?
Do you routinely protect the golden hour after birth?
How do you support breastfeeding goals?
What can I expect from visits with you postpartum? How many visits will we have and how close to delivery?
Want to take this list of questions with you to your appointment?