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9 questions to ask a potential maternity caregiver

Posted by Katherine Kowalski on January 2, 2018 at 8:20 PM

January 2, 2018, 

Happy new year!  I'd like to kick off the new year with a topic that is very close to my heart, something that I consider so important yet easily overlooked in the prenatal stage. It is the importance of interviewing your potential prenatal caregiver. 'Sometimes the only thing that makes your pregnancy high risk is your choice of care provider.'

So you find out you're pregnant!  What next?  Most likely you start your search for a midwife, obstetrician or maybe a practice of maternity care GPs.  Perhaps you get a great referral from a friend or your family doctor.  You wait a few weeks and you compile a list of burning pregnancy related questions.  This is all great but there is one thing I cannot stress enough to women and it is the importance of interviewing your potential caregiver There often seems to be a disconnect when people don't pay their health care providers directly, such as the case with provincially funded health care in Alberta.  I think it's easy to forget that we are hiring someone to provide maternity health care services to us even if they are paid for on our behalf.  This is no less of a hire and it should not be a situation that disempowers us but a choice that leaves the woman in charge of selecting the best possible caregiver for herself and her baby.  Read reviews, ask around and do some research about any potential caregivers you are interested in meeting with.  It is an excellent idea to spend some time reflecting on what your ideal birth experience and what is most important to you and then seeking out someone who shares similar philosophies and beliefs.  You can choose not to go with the caregiver if you don't feel right after the visit.  You can find a new caregiver at any point, even at 39 weeks, although this is truly a challenge the closer you get to the end of your pregnancy.  This is your birth experience and who you choose to be a part of one of the most sacred times in your life should be selected with extreme care.  "People in our society spend more time and effort researching to buy a stereo system, car, probably a camera then they do checking out what their choices are for birth." ~ The Business of Being Born.  Take the time.  Don't rush.  Find a warm, empathetic caregiver that listens, resonates with you, shares your philosophies about birth and empowers you as a woman.  Here are some questions I have put together and strongly recommend asking at your first prenatal appointment: 



1.) What is your philosophy on birth?  

Does this care provider see birth as a natural process in which they are guiding you through or do they see it as a medical condition/event that requires management? 


2.) Will I see you (or another caregiver) at each prenatal appointment and how much time is allotted for our appointment?  Does a nurse sometimes conduct our prenatal visits? 


3.) What are the chances that you will attend my birth?  Do the other care providers in your group/practice share a similar philosophy of care? 


4.) What are your thoughts about induction and augmentation and under what circumstances would you consider inducing or augmenting my labour?


5.) Do you support natural, unmedicated childbirth?  If yes, how do you support this approach? 


6.) How often do you use interventions such as artificial rupture of membranes, episiotomy, forceps, and vacuum extraction?


7.) How often do you find it necessary to perform an unplanned cesarean birth with a first-time mother with a low risk pregnancy?  What is your cesarean section rate? 


8.) Question for a midwife or GP: If I develop complications during pregnancy or labor, will you manage my care or will you refer me to another caregiver?  What complications would require a transfer of care?  Who do you commonly refer your clients to? 


9.) Do you support vaginal breech births?  FYI: Most breech friendly caregivers will only support a vaginal birth in the case of a frank breech presentation.  


There are so many more questions that you can ask.  If a potential caregiver seems irritated by your questions, that is a red flag.  Understand there are limits of time per visit however, during the initial meeting it should be expected that you would naturally have more questions.  Any caregiver that would prefer their patients not ask questions or not question how they practice is not a care provider I would ever choose for myself.  Many, many wonderful care providers exist.  A great idea is to ask a local doula for some of her personal recommendations.  I am happy to share a list of names of exceptional midwives, obstetricians and GP's in the Edmonton area that I have worked alongside over the years. 


Remember: This is is your pregnancy and you deserve the most supportive and compassionate caregiver there is.  Intutition is heightened during pregnancy and this is one of the first opportunites to tune in and listen to it.  


Best of luck to you in your search for a wonderful caregiver, 


Katherine ♥

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