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Five Questions To Ask Your Future OB or Midwife

The early weeks of pregnancy are a precious time of anticipation and excitement. You might also wonder what sort of provider will be the perfect fit to offer you competent and compassionate care as you journey through pregnancy and birth. For you, this might mean care with an obstetrician or midwife in a hospital, or in a freestanding birth center or at home with a midwife. Depending on your situation, any of the above could be good options! As you ponder the best care fit for you and your family, it is helpful to develop a short list of questions to ask your future OB or midwife. Below are our top five.

Five questions to ask of your OB or midwife | newly pregnant | birth care | prenatal care | childbirth | obstetrician | midwife

Is my provider in network with my insurance?

This is one of the (very practical) first questions to ask your future OB or midwife. Making sure that your provider is in-network with your health insurance ensures that all bills are processed as such. This typically results in a lower deductible for you and lower overall out of pocket cost. You can get answers to this question by calling the phone number on the back of your insurance card. Be sure to share the provider and/or clinic’s full name and location. It’s also important to ensure that your provider’s lab is in-network, along with the anticipated care facility (hospital, birth center, etc.). If insurance coverage is not a priority for you, however, then you may be able to look at more options.

What is my provider’s philosophy of care?

This open-ended question might sound a bit too lofty and philosophical, but the answer (and how it sits with you) really matters. Inquiries like, “What is your role as physician? What is your role during labor and delivery?” will help you see what your provider values.

What is their overall outlook on pregnancy, birth, and labor? Are they more medically-minded about birth, or do they lean toward the more natural route—and which do you prefer? What are their opinions on certain medical procedures like continuous electronic fetal monitoring, scheduling inductions, pitocin, episiotomies, and epidurals? Do they tend to take control of how a labor is progressing, or do they prefer to allow the mother to take the lead? Will they be welcoming of everyone who you plan to be present at your birth? (This includes a spouse or partner, birth doula, or any other support person who is important to you!)

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What is my provider’s track record?

Whether you are planning a home, birth center, or hospital birth, outcomes matter. For example, does your prospective provider specialize in high risk pregnancies that might be accompanied by a greater number of interventions or a higher c-section rate? If you desire a low intervention birth, this provider might not be the best fit. Don’t be afraid to ask potential providers for key statistics like their induction rate, c-section rate, and average appointment length.

Ask for statistics. Hospitals keep track of things like induction rates, episiotomy rates and cesarean rates, so asking for these numbers will give you a good idea of hospital and provider practices. While physicians and clinics usually don’t track or share their statistics, you can get an idea of how things are by calling the front office and asking some questions, like, “Out of the last 10 deliveries this provider performed, how many ended up being c-sections?” or “Out of the last 10 attempted unmedicated births, how many were successful?” Keep in mind that unfortunately, even if you love your provider, sometimes the hospital will limit their ability to provide the care you’re hoping for.

If you are planning an out of hospital birth, it would also be a good idea to ask for their rate of transfer to the hospital.

Will my provider be at my baby’s birth?

Depending on the practice, some providers work solo or with a very small team of colleagues. Others work in a much larger clinical setting. In these settings you might not have any sense of who will actually attend your birth. If having the assurance of one particular provider at your birth is important to you, it might be best to consider a smaller team of providers. You can also ask the clinic or a specific provider what the percentage is of them attending their own patients’ births themselves. There are some providers who make that a priority, even in a larger practice.

When will I see my provider again after birth?

It’s unfortunate that many American women are not seen by their providers until a full four to six weeks postpartum. Physically and emotionally, a lot can happen in that time. It is therefore one of the most critical questions to ask your future OB or midwife. Does your provider offer any clinic or home visit check-ins prior to six weeks postpartum? If not, how easily can you be in touch with your provider if a problem arises such as unusual bleeding, breastfeeding pain, or mental health difficulties? You deserve to have support from your provider through the entire perinatal health journey. This includes pregnancy, birth, and the full postpartum first year.

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The most important question

As you move through your pregnancy, we encourage you to ask yourself just one more (really important) question: Do I feel safe, seen, and supported by my provider?

Your care team is never really set in stone, even later in pregnancy. If you have established care with a provider but it’s really not sitting well with you, it’s okay to stop and reassess. Perhaps your current provider perpetually runs late, or your care team consistently confuses your lab results. Or, maybe you just don’t feel like your questions are fully answered at your prenatal visits. Whatever the reason, trust your gut and know that other options are out there for you that will make you feel welcomed, supported, and ready to meet your baby. It’s almost never too late to switch.

Based in the Twin Cities, Duluth, and Rochester areas of Minnesota, Better Beginnings is a go-to resource for support in pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Whether you are interested in our premier postpartum doula services, or in wraparound services such as childbirth education, birth doula support, massage, breastfeeding support, or placenta encapsulation, Better Beginnings is here to meet the need. Find us on social: Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest

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