Choosing a Doctor or Obstetrician (and a checklist)

Choosing a doctor or an obstetrician when planning a natural birth is challenging. Interview your potential provider to find out how supportive they are of natural pregnancy and childbirth, their views on safety, and their views on early newborn bonding. Request an interview before you have any exams done.

Also consider the statistics for the hospital where you plan to give birth. Your doctor may be very agreeable to your wishes for your labor and birth, but a rigid or technically oriented hospital can still make things hard for you. Call and speak to the head nurse in Labor and Delivery to find out you hospital’s statistics and procedures.

A Checklist for Interviewing An OB

  • What prenatal tests does he (or she) require? What does he recommend?
  • What is his view on labor and birth?
  • 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 her? Would he be busy with paperwork?
  • Will he stay with you during pushing?
  • Will he attend the birth, or does it depend on who is on call?
  • 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?
  • Will he provide you with education as you prepare for the birth?
  • 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 post partum hemorrhage?
  • What are his fees and what do they include? What is his payment schedule?
  • What does he do if a mother goes “post dates?” 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?

No matter who you choose (OB, midwife, or family practice doctor), you can change providers during your pregnancy if you find that your current provider isn’t giving you the care you’d like, respecting you, or even if there is just a personality difference between the two of you.

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