You may be looking for a health care provider or already have one and are considering making a change. Your birth will be a very important part of your life and it will be the beginning of your relationship with your baby. Remember that you are in charge of your birth and you can change health care providers at any time.
Here are some questions you should ask yourself when considering if your healthcare provider is the right one for you!
1. Do I feel listened to?
If the answer is no, consider making a switch or talking to your health care provider about how you’re feeling.
2. Do I trust their clinical advice?
It’s important to remember that there are bad doctors/midwives/nurses. Not all of them of course but they do exist and you cannot blindly trust someone just because they have a medical degree.
You need to be able to trust your healthcare provider and trust their word when they say there is a medical emergency. If you are doubting your healthcare providers competency it may be time to make a switch.
3. Do they include me in conversations about my body? / Do they ask me questions?
Some doctors forget that they need to be talking directly to you. Sometimes they may defer to your partner, or if you are a young pregnant person, they may even defer to YOUR parents. Remember that you are in charge here and no one else. If this happens, try to redirect their focus to you instead of the other person.
4. Do they ask for permission before they touch my body or do any procedure? Do they explain the procedure before they do it?
Informed consent is the process of obtaining consent from a patient (you) by explaining to them the benefits, risks and alternatives to a procedure before doing it.
Take a vaginal exam for example. Saying “hop up on the bed for me so I can perform this exam” is not informed consent. They would need first ask your permission to do it and then explain all of the benefits, risks and alternatives to doing that exam.
5. Do I trust that they will advocate for me?
If you really want to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) or an unmedicated birth for example, having someone who will help push for that to happen is an asset. Making sure you have a healthcare provider who is on the same page as you and is willing to make sure everyone else (other doctors, nurses, & midwives) is on the same page as you can be critical for having the birth that you want.
Keep in mind that not all health care providers offer continuity of care, so you will also want to make sure that if they are going to advocate for you, they are also going to be at your birth.
6. Do they suppress my worries by saying things like “you’re fine” or “ just dont worry about that “ or “ we’ll look at that later”, instead of trying to understand where my worry is coming from or giving me information that can actually put me at ease?
You will definitely want to make sure that you have a health care provider that is willing to address all of your concerns (no matter how small). You are worthy of answers and you should not be brushed off by your health care provider.
Let them know that you have questions and make sure they are answered prior to them beginning your appointment. Having them answer your questions before they check the heartbeat or measure your belly will ensure they don’t run out of the room after they are done what is on their agenda.
7. Do I feel that they will be around to support me post-partum?
If the answer is no to this question, I would not necessarily say you need to find a new health care provider, but I would suggest you make arrangements for the support you will need.
Midwives do provide care for you and your baby for the first 6 weeks after birth and will even visit you in your home. If you have an OB your care will likely be transferred to your family doctor and you will see them for any concerns you have before your 6 week appointment with your OB.
Remember that your birth is YOUR birth. You are in charge of who is there and what you want it to look like. Find a health care provider that you trust and aligns with your views of birth. Remember that at any time you have the right to seek care from a new health care provider, even if you’re in labour.
These questions are taken from a book I highly recommend called “Why did no one tell me this: The doulas honest guide for expectant parents” by Natalia Hailes & Ask Spivak.