Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
Your plan is a natural birth. You’ve chosen the type of location where you want to give birth. You’ve chosen the type of doctor/midwife that you’d like to support you at your birth. Now it’s time to choose the specific healthcare provider that you want to invite to your birth. Which means you need a list of interview questions to ask your OB GYN or midwife. And we’ve got you covered!
Table of contents
- Why Ask Questions to Interview My OB GYN or Midwife?
- Questions to Ask The Office Staff
- Personality and Bedside Manner
- Questions to Ask OB GYN or Midwife
- Can You Switch OB GYN During Pregnancy?
Why Ask Questions to Interview My OB GYN or Midwife?
Many pregnant moms choose their doctor or midwife based on the recommendations of friends or other doctors. Others simply look online and go to the first practice that’s nearby or accepting patients. However, your choice of doctor or midwife will have a significant impact on your birth. Not only will you see them throughout your pregnancy, but they influence the medical interventions you do or do not receive during labor. So don’t make this decision casually, on a whim. Instead, your choice of doctor or midwife should be an intentional, deliberate decision.
What’s the Point of the Interview?
Your goal is asking questions is to see if this particular OB GYN or midwife is a good fit for your birth philosophy. And when your plan is a natural birth, you also want to know if he or she the type of caregiver that is likely to support a natural birth.
Interview At Least 3 OB GYNs or Midwives
I recommend interviewing at least doctors and midwives before you make your decision. Many practices will allow you to request a “consultation” with your chosen healthcare provider before you schedule a prenatal visit. Be sure to ask if a consultation is billed to insurance or is complimentary. And ask how much time you can expect to have with the doctor or midwife in your visit.
Come prepared with your list of questions. Of course you don’t need to ask every single question offered in the lists below, nor will you likely have time to ask every question. Assume you have about 10 minutes in a consultation with a doctor. So only pick the questions that are most important to you and save the others for your prenatal visits.
Questions to Ask The Office Staff
Even before your interview, you can glean some valuable information about the practice from the office staff. Some great questions include:
- Does the doctor/midwife accept my insurance?
- Which hospitals or birth centers do your doctors have privileges at? Where will I give birth if I choose this practice?
- How many different OB GYNs or midwives work at this practice? If there are several, can I request to meet with each one during my pregnancy? Are there any that do office visits but that don’t deliver the baby?
- Who will assist in delivering my baby? Is it possible to request a particular healthcare provider? If not, will the on-call doctor/midwife be from this practice?
- What is the typical wait time to schedule an appointment? And how long can I expect to wait in the office on the day of my scheduled appointment?
- How much time is typically allotted for each prenatal visit?
Personality and Bedside Manner
Before we get into specific questions to ask your OB GYN or midwife candidates, I want to encourage you to consider the caregiver’s general personality and bedside manner when you meet. When you’re talking to them, do you feel comfortable? Do they put you at ease or make you feel self-conscious? Are you feeling rushed or do they patiently listen and answer your questions? Do you feel respected and supported?
Remember that pregnancy is a very personal journey and your OB GYN or midwife is an invited guest. Be sure that you feel comfortable with their personality, professionalism, and communication style.
Questions to Ask OB GYN or Midwife
- How many births do you and your practice attend each month?
- How many of those births are vaginal? And how many are cesarean?
- In an uncomplicated delivery, how much of the labor and birth do you typically attend?
- Who will assist the delivery if you aren’t available when I go into labor?
- Who do I call if any complications arise during pregnancy? Is someone available to talk with 24/7?
- (If talking with a midwife) Who is your backup physician in case I need a cesarean or other interventions?
- How many of your clients attempt natural birth without an epidural or other pain medication?
- In what ways do you support moms who want a natural birth?
- How do you feel about birth plans?
- Will your colleagues respect the birth plan I make with you?
- Will the hospital staff respect the birth plan I make with you?
- Do you recommend taking childbirth classes? Do you have any that you recommend?
- How do you feel about doulas at the birth? Do you have any that you recommend?
- Do the other OB GYNs or midwives in this practice share a similar philosophy about birth?
- What is your policy on labor induction? For what reasons are most labor inductions scheduled?
- If I’m still pregnant past my due date, at what point do you suggest an induction?
- What positions do you feel comfortable with me pushing in as you assist the delivery? (Lying flat on back, hands and knees, using a squat bar, side-lying, etc.)
- If I choose an epidural, are there any reasons I might not be able to get one?
- How frequent are vaginal checks during labor?
- How often do you do episiotomies?
- What is your standard protocol about IVs, IV fluids, and fetal monitoring during labor?
- How many people are allowed in the room while I’m laboring? Is there a different number of people allowed while I’m pushing and giving birth?
- How dilated does my cervix need to be in order to be admitted to the hospital during labor?
- Can I move around during labor? Does the hospital offer telemetry?
- Is there a tub that I can labor in?
- Does the hospital support water birth?
- Can I eat during labor?
- Does the hospital provide lactation support to help me breastfeed after birth?
Can You Switch OB GYN During Pregnancy?
What if you’re already further along in your pregnancy, but don’t feel comfortable with your current caregiver? First, share your concerns with your OB GYN or midwife and see if they’re willing to make some changes. If it becomes clear that the relationship hasn’t or won’t improve, it may be wise to consider changing to a new healthcare provider or practice.
While you can switch to a new OB GYN or midwife at any time in your pregnancy, be sure to find a new caregiver before you drop the old one. If you’re late in your pregnancy or have significant medical conditions, it may be more difficult to find a new practice that will accept you as a patient.
Once you’ve done your interviews and found a new OB GYN or midwife that you trust, let your old practice know that you’re making the change. Then, take the necessary steps to get your medical records sent over to the new practice.
My Experience Switching to a New OB GYN During Pregnancy
Finding My First Caregiver
We relocated to Atlanta for a few years while my husband was in grad school. As a childbirth educator, I was familiar with the best providers for natural birth in the Atlanta area. When I got pregnant with baby #4, I made an appointment with a midwife that I highly respected. She was the only midwife in a busy practice that included 4 other doctors.
Unfortunately, within a few weeks, I experienced an ectopic pregnancy that resulted in miscarriage. A few months later, I had another miscarriage. The doctors had a highly-medicalized approach that I valued during that time. Monitoring the miscarriages required a bit of extra care and some specialized medications, and I was grateful to be in competent hands.
Realizing the Need to Change
Several months later, I was pregnant again, fortunately this time without a miscarriage. I decided to rotate prenatal visits with my chosen midwife and the other doctors in the practice. While I knew that the midwife supported natural birth, I did not get the same vibe from the doctors. They were open and honest about their preference for epidurals and didn’t see the value in opting out of pain medication. Knowing that I would give birth with whichever caregiver was on call, I felt that sticking with this practice could put my plans for a natural birth at risk.
Making the Change
I decided to find a new practice and talked with my midwife about my intent to change practices, and why. She was kind and supportive of my choice, and acknowledged the medicalized philosophy of her co-workers. Within a few days, I switched to a new practice where all the providers were more aligned with birth philosophy. I felt well-supported and was able to have a successful natural birth.
The OB or midwife that you choose, along with the other providers in the practice, will have a significant influence on your birth experience. Take the time to consider your options and interview potential caregivers. By making this an intentional decision, you’ll improve your chance of having a safe and satisfying natural birth.
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