Interview Your Birth Team: Questions for Doctors and Midwives

Interview Your Birth Team: Questions for Doctors and Midwives

There are limitless ways to birth your baby, but in our society most women blindly follow their doctor’s orders.  You deserve more than standard care.  You deserve to understand that this is your birth, your baby, and your choice.  You have the option to decide where, when, and how your birth takes place. Of course there are exceptions.  This is when the high risk care comes into play.  However, even during these times, you have CHOICES.  You have OPTIONS.  Never blindly follow, but instead educate yourself on the care that you expect to receive for you and baby throughout the pregnancy and beyond.  Your birth team works for you, not the other way around. Before committing to your current doctor, explore your options.  Begin by talking with your partner about the birth you would like to experience.  You are allowed to change your mind up until the day you give birth, but being open will help your partner understand your thinking.  You may also change your birth team up until the day you give birth, nothing is written in stone. As you decide what you would like, start reading books, blogs, and then start asking questions.  Talk to other mothers who have birthed similarly to what you imagine you would like, and ask them how they achieved their goals. No matter the plan you would like in place, make sure that your team matches your beliefs.  For example, a mother wanting a natural, unmedicated birth should explore midwifery options or ensure that her doctor is supportive of her wishes and has a high rate of natural birthing women in his practice.  Or a woman planning a cesarean section should ensure that her birth team includes those who practice family-centered c-sections. If you are unsure what you should be asking, you can steal the list of questions that I have created.  I have broken it into two major categories: Standard OBGYN and hospital birth and Midwife (either at a birth center or for an at-home birth).  You may also consider interviewing a doula for any birth environment you choose.

Interviewing a Midwife

  • What is your philosophy regarding pregnancy and birth and your role in it?
  • How many births have you attended?
  • What percentage of women successfully have a natural birth under your care?
  • What percentage of women need to transfer to the hospital (if planning a home birth or birth center birth)? What is the typical reason?
  • What percentage of moms end up with a C-section?
  • What percentage of moms end up with an epidural?
  • What percentage of babies are transferred to NICU?
  • What is the mortality rate for moms? For babies?
  • Do you have hospital privileges? At what hospitals?
  • If you have children, what were your birth experiences like?
  • How many midwives or obstetricians are on the team? Who are your assistants? Will I get to meet all of them? What is their experience? Can I be sure that you will attend my birth?
  • What are your fees and what do they include? Do you bill to insurance?
  • Do you deliver breech babies naturally? VBACs? Twins?
  • How many births do you attend per month?
  • What usually happens at prenatal appointments? How many? When? How long are they?
  • Are you available by phone or email for questions?
  • What is your philosophy on weight gain, nutrition, prenatal supplements, and exercise?
  • What factors would risk me out of your practice? How will you help me prevent these?
  • What child birth class do you recommend?
  • What prenatal testing to you encourage?
  • Can I opt out of prenatal screening or testing?
  • What type of gestational diabetes testing do you typically use?
  • Do you recommend ultrasounds? When? How many?
  • Do you typically do vaginal checks during prenatal appointments? When?
  • What happens if I go past my due date? How late can I be and still birth under your care (if a midwife)?
  • What testing do you do for a late baby? Starting at how many weeks?
  • Do you have any concerns about big babies being birthed naturally?
  • Will you deliver a breech baby?
  • Can I opt out of vaginal checks?
  • Can I opt out of antibiotics and follow a natural GBS protocol instead (If I am GBS positive)?
  • When do you do vaginal checks during labor?
  • What type of monitoring do you do during labor? How often? For how long?
  • Do you routinely use an IV or hep-lock?
  • Are there birth tubs in each room in the birth center? What if one is not available when I’m in labor?
  • Is a water birth available? If not, am I able to push in the tub at all?
  • How long do you recommend I stay in the water at one time? Do I need to get out for monitoring?
  • How many women are under the care of one midwife or doctor at a time? How much will you be with me throughout my labor?
  • Are you comfortable working alongside a doula? Do you have particular doulas you recommend?
  • How long can I labor without induction?
  • How long can I labor after water breaks before being transferred?
  • When would you recommend induction? Do you use natural induction methods first?
  • How long can I labor without intervention after my water breaks?
  • Who attends a birth? (Students, assistants, nurses, etc.)
  • When do you feel amniotomy is indicated?
  • Can I eat and drink during labor?
  • What’s your process for implementing a family’s birth plan?
  • What positions are available during labor? While pushing?
  • What are reasons you would initiate a transfer to a hospital (if a home birth or birth center birth)?
  • How long do you allow for delivery of the placenta? When do you cut the cord?
Postpartum & Newborn Care
  • Are you certified in neonatal resuscitation?
  • What post-partum care do you provide? When? How many appointments? Where?
  • What does newborn care consist of? Under what circumstances would my newborn need to be taken away from me for treatment?
  • Are you comfortable with me declining bathing, vitamin K, heel poke, eye ointment, vaccinations?
  • Can you help me initiate breastfeeding?
  • Who handles the application for the birth certificate/social security card?

Interviewing a Doctor

  • What is your philosophy on birth and the birthing mother?
  • What prenatal tests does he (or she) require? What does he recommend?
  • Can you opt out of testing?
  • Can you use natural testing methods (GD real foods test instead of the drink)?
  • Can you walk and/or move around during labor?
  • What positions can you birth in?
  • Can you eat and drink during labor?
  • How will he monitor the baby?
  • How often will he monitor the baby?
  • Can you labor in water? Can you birth in water?
  • Will you have to have an IV?
  • Will he stay with you continuously throughout your labor and birth, or could someone else in the practice relieve him?
  • What are his hours at the hospital for births?
  • How many doctors are in the practice that could potentially be my birthing doctor? Can I meet and interview each of them?
  • How long will I be allowed to labor without intervention?
  • What is his cesarean section rate? Assisted delivery rate?
  • What are his views on episiotomy?
  • What procedures does he perform immediately on the newborn? What can wait? Will he wait if you request it?
  • Does he believe in kangaroo care?
  • Will he provide you with education as you prepare for the birth?
  • What form of childbirth education does he support?
  • How long will he stay after you deliver your baby?
  • What kind of postpartum follow-up does he give?
  • How long does an appointment normally last? What is a typical appointment like?
  • How many babies is he catching during a month?
  • What happens if two clients are in labor at the same time?
  • Has he ever missed a birth?
  • When will he come to you after you begin labor?
  • Will he do a vaginal breech delivery? Twin delivery?
  • What does he do in the event of a long labor? A “stalled” labor?
  • What does he think of premature rupture of membranes (PROM)?
  • How long does he wait to cut the cord after the baby is born?
  • What does he do if there is a postpartum hemorrhage?
  • What are his fees and what do they include? What is his payment schedule?
  • What does he do if a mother goes “overdue?” What if a mother is approaching 42 weeks?
  • What does he expect regarding self-care during pregnancy?
  • What is his view on nutrition and weight gain during pregnancy?
  • Has he ever lost a baby? What were the circumstances?
  • Will he help you with breastfeeding?
  • How does he feel about circumcision? Immunization?
  • How do I get my baby’s birth certificate?
  • How long will you have to wait to see him?
  • Will you always see him or will he rotate me from doctor to doctor within the practice?
  • How many of his patients hire a doula or another labor support person?
  • How does he feel about your professional labor support person giving internal exams (with sterile gloves) and assessing fetal heart tones?
  • What does he consider a high risk pregnancy?
When you interviewed your birth team, what were you most concerned with learning about?
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