20 Questions to Ask When Choosing a New Obstetrician |
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20 Questions to Ask When Choosing a New Obstetrician

wendy February 19, 2013

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By Wendy Staas, Contributing Writer

So many women look forward to pregnancy, especially when they are married and ready.  Whether or not it happened in a ‘perfect’ scenario, are you prepared?  So often we can’t wait to get pregnant, but then do not know what to do when that stick we pee on shows us we are positively pregnant.  We think to ourselves, in excitement, “Now what?”

We typically rush to our OB/GYN, get our ultrasound and schedule our due date.  Done!  However, should you stay with the OB/GYN that before just did preventative vaginal and breast exams? When you decided to hire this doctor to care for your preventative needs, did you select them for their flexibility when it comes to obstetric care when/if you became pregnant?  Not likely.

So, what do you do?  You’ve already gone to the first appointment to confirm the pregnancy.  You can’t possibly fire a doctor if you feel they aren’t the right choice for your birth, can you?  Absolutely. And you must, at minimum, get the answers to all the questions you have, especially after you have decided what kind of birth you want.

What kind of birth do you want?

The media portrays a typical birth scenario of induction, epidural, maybe a cesarean and, wa la! there’s a baby.  (Yeah, it doesn’t go that way even if you do walk into the hospital to be induced. ) Is that the kind of birth you want? If you are reading this, you probably aren’t the “typical” woman and most likely want a drug-free birth.  However, you may be reading this in a state where midwifery care and birthing at home is illegal, or otherwise not an option. What do you do then?

First thing first – you must take ownership of your pregnancy, body and baby.  You make the decisions.  You hire your doctor, not the other way around.  Make sure you become informed about evidenced based birth immediately.  You can fire your doctor at any time, do not allow yourself to be bullied or bamboozled into saying yes to something that your gut says no.  Trust your instincts!

Next, if birthing at home makes you uncomfortable or is not an option (whether it’s not legal or for other circumstances), but you want a drug free birth, this is what you need to ask your doctor:

1. Are you a part of a practice with several doctors?  If so, who could be attending my birth if you are not on call, out of town or other?  Do they have the same birthing philosophy as you?

2. Are you okay with my interviewing these other doctors before I make my decision as to who I will trust with my medical care during this pregnancy and birth?

3. How many women in your practice go natural, drug-free with no interventions?

4. Were those all planned drug-free births?

5. Are you open to limited ultrasounds?

Ultrasounds become increasingly inaccurate as the pregnancy progresses.  Having just the 20 week ultrasound to verify everything is okay is enough.  Some doctors like to have another ultrasound done at 38 weeks, which can put you at risk for being scheduled for a cesarean because of the ‘big baby’, even though they can be wrong several pounds in each direction.

6. If later in the pregnancy I develop Gestational Diabetes, Preeclampsia or am GBS positive, are you open to non-medical treatment?

Many doctors use pharmaceuticals as the default method of treatment.  Depending on your beliefs, this may not be acceptable.  If it is not, you need to find a doctor that is willing to do alternative methods of treatment first, if then things to not improve, then you can do something different.  Often modifying our diet and increasing a few supplements can take care of the mentioned situations.

7. When laboring what is your belief about my being able to eat/drink during different stages of labor?

Often doctors and hospitals have policies that you cannot eat during labor.  Once you go to the hospital you are subject to the only thing they have to offer laboring women, which is typically gelatin, popsicles or sometimes just ice chips.  These offer little to no nutrients and only raises your sugar levels for a short time.  If hospital policy does not allow you to eat, take food anyway.

This policy covers their behinds in case you need an emergency cesarean. If you are anesthetized for emergency surgery, they don’t want you to aspirate food/ fluid into your lungs.  It is a risk, though most cesareans are performed with a local anesthetic and the likelihood that you will need an emergency cesarean is slim – especially if you have a low risk pregnancy and have hired a doctor with a low cesarean rate.

8. I want to avoid induction, is there a point you recommend induction?

9. What is your philosophy on allowing my baby to come anytime within the 28-42 week range?  If the baby has not come by 42 weeks, what is your recommendation?  Will you encourage me to do alternative methods of induction, for example, acupuncture?

10. Should my water break, what is your position in allowing my body to progress naturally? I want to labor at home as long as possible, do you see a problem with my laboring at home while my water has broken?

11. Should labor be long after water breaking, what are your recommendations to avoid induction & cesarean?

12. What is your thought on episiotomies and how many do you do a year?

13. What percentages of your first time moms do not tear or have small tears?

14. What do you do to support or prepare the perineum during pushing?

15. Are you open to spontaneous pushing in lieu of directive?

16. Can I be up on my feet while I labor? And thus NOT connected to monitors & IVs the whole time? (intermittent monitoring)

17. Can I deliver on my feet/knees instead of flat on my back or semi-sitting?

18. What percentages of moms have primary cesarean after laboring?

19. Do you allow VBACs (Vaginal Birth after Cesarean)?

This question needs to be asked first if you have had a previous cesarean.

20. Do you support breastfeeding?

In the end you need to feel comfortable with who you hired.  If at any time your gut tells you that something is not right, leave!  I should have fired my obstetrician because at my first appointment I said (at 6 weeks pregnant), “I want a drug free birth,” and her reply was, “Let’s worry about that when it gets closer.”

RED FLAG! RED FLAG! RED FLAG! Hindsight being 20-20, I should have fired her.  My birth story would have been happier.  I did get the drug free birth I had always desired, but I had to beat the drugs off with a stick.  It was not any fun, until I pushed that baby out and knew at that moment that every woman needed to know how amazing a drug-free birth feels.

Are there any other questions you would ask a new obstetrician?

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15 Comments

  1. I’d like to ask why he or she became an obstetrician…
    The answer is usually very telling!
    Any answer that suggests an ego trip should be a red flag:
    Saving lives? Red Flag!
    Helping God? Red Flag!
    Because women are more compliant than men? (I have actually heard this one before – Run Run Run away as fast as you can!)

    Reply

  2. […] If you are pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, MAP wrote a post this week on questions to ask a new obstetrician. […]

    Reply

  3. Thanks for the post. My wife is pregnant with our first, so this is helpful information. I think these are all really great questions to ask. I know my wife has mentioned that she would like to labor at home. I just want to make sure that it is safe for her and the baby. When her water breaks will it be like a rush of water, or what should I expect?

    Reply

  4. I never knew that just having a 20 week ultrasound is actually enough to make sure that the baby is okay. My wife is pregnant for the first time, and we wanted to make sure that everything went according to plan. It would be nice to figure out what kind of birth she wants to have, and if we need someone to help us out.

    Reply

  5. I like that you suggest to ask who you could expect to have present when you are giving birth if the regular doctor isn’t there. I can see why this would be a good way to then ask if you could meet that other doctor in person. My sister just announced that she is pregnant and will be having her second child in July. I’ll have to make sure she asks this when she goes in for her next check up.

    Reply

  6. I like that you said that we can hire any doctor. My wife and I have been looking for the right doctor for a while. Maybe we should hire the one that we feel is best right now.

    Reply

  7. My wife and I have been looking into finding her a gynecologist who can help her and see if we can start to grow our family. I’m glad you talked about a bunch of questions to ask a gynecologist and I think that having this list would be helpful for us. I’m going to have to look into some different options for my wife to choose as a gynecologist and make sure she picks a few of these questions to make sure and ask, especially about birthing philosophy! Thanks for the help!

    Reply

  8. I do like that one of the questions you ask is about the kind of birth you want. After all, there are many different kinds of births aside from the typical one of waiting in the hospital. If you want something like a water birth or anything like that then you should make sure that your OBGYN approves of it as well.

    Reply

  9. I like how you asked the question about what an OB/GYN’s thoughts are on episiotomies and how many they have done. I recently found out that I am pregnant with our first baby. Thank you for the advice on what questions to ask a prospective OB doctor.

    Reply

  10. It’s good to know how to find an obstetrician. My wife and I just moved, and since she is pregnant, we need to find a doctor for her to go to. I’ll tell her that she needs to do everything she can to find someone who will make the right choice for her birth!

    Reply

  11. I wasn’t aware that in a pregnancy, you have to plan ahead if you want a drug free birth. My wife wants a drug free birth when we decide to have a baby. I will talk to her and mention that we need to be clear at the beginning with the doctor what we want.

    Reply

  12. To add on to the list, it also essential to check whether the OB/GYN offers early pregnancy care. This is important in order to ensure that you have a safe pregnancy. Great post, Kate. Loved it!

    Reply

  13. My sister found out that she is pregnant a few weeks ago and she asked me to help her find a qualified OBGYN in her area, so I am glad that I found this article. You make a great point that my sister should interview potential doctors and ask them questions that are most important to her. I know that breastfeeding and a natural birth are both very important to my sister, so I think asking questions about both of these topics would help her find a supportive and knowledgeable doctor.

    Reply

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Hi, I’m Kate.  I love medical freedom, sharing natural remedies, developing real food recipes, and gentle parenting. My goal is to teach you how to live your life free from Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government by learning about herbs, cooking, and sustainable practices.

I’m the author of Natural Remedies for Kids and the owner and lead herbalist at EarthleyI hope you’ll join me on the journey to a free and healthy life!

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