Own Your Birth with Ten Questions to Ask Your Care Provider and Yourself

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Generally, when a woman decides to get pregnant she already has a provider that she sees for her well-woman check ups.   Most women see an OB/GYN, but there are several options.  The tendency is that if she likes her current care provider for the well-woman check ups, she sticks with that person or practice for her pregnancy and birth.  This can be a huge mistake without even realizing the consequences. 

Here’s a secret –doctors and midwives are in a consumer market and you are the consumer!  They offer a service (pregnancy and birth management) and a product (the provider).  If you don’t like the service or the product, it’s time to go shopping! 

Just like any other market, you have choices and you can take your business elsewhere.  But, for cultural reasons, women in this country rarely change their care provider in pregnancy.  It’s a power issue.  We tend to give up our power to the provider, and we don’t realize that we have the power to change providers.  Even after women have subpar or worse pregnancy/birth experiences with their care provider, they tend not to change practices for their next pregnancy. This is a serious cultural issue that needs to change.  We as women need to own as bodies through pregnancy and birth, and own our choices.   The truth is many of our local OB/GYNs have very poor outcomes for birth.  Some hospitals in the Northern Virginia area very high c-section rate (40 percent) compared with the national average (33.5 percent) So how do you know what kind of service you will get, or what kind of product to expect?  Simply conduct a short interview with your current provider to see if you are truly a match.   This is an important step in owning your birth.  It’s also a great way to investigate your own feelings and believes about pregnancy and birth.   How much do you trust your body?  How much support do you need through out this process?  How much education would you like?  And, most importantly, what do you believe about birth?  This simple question often doesn’t come up in our culture unless you are lucky enough to have witnessed a birth, or have friends or family that has given birthed before you.  

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With these 10 Questions to Ask Your Care Provider, you will have the words to create a conversation with empowerment, thoughtfulness, and information.   These questions are conversation starters.  Take notes.  The answers to these questions give you insights into how the provider actually practices.  Hopefully, they are honest with you.  And be honest with them about how you are feeling, and what you are thinking for your birth.   After this conversation with your doctor, use the next 10 Questions to Ask YOURSELF About Your Care Provider.  Sit with the answers.  See what your intuition is telling you.  

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If you feel positive about your current provider… Great!  Now you know for sure you are a good match, and you’ve learned more about them.   If you aren’t feeling so positive, then…  its time to go shopping!  Start your investigative hunt by learning more about your options.   Have you looked into a midwife practice?  How you thought about a birthing center?   What about homebirth?  There is actually a wide range of options in this area.   As you are research-shopping, ask your friends, listservs, and other complimentary providers (acupuncturist, chiropractor, yoga teacher, doula) who would they recommend.   Really good providers tend to get recommended again and again.   And when you find a few options, set up a consultation.  See how many of these questions you can get answered. 

By taking a little more time interviewing and investigating, you will feel satisfaction that you mindfully, thoughtfully choose the care provider for you and your baby.  You will have taken the first step to advocating for your birth, and analyzing what is meaningful to you in your pregnancy and birth.  This feeling of satisfaction and ownership has another word…  Empowered!  You are now empowered!  Watch out world!  Empowered Momma coming through.  This is all part of the great journey of self-transformation.  Step into who you are becoming and go interview your provider! 

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Ten Questions to Ask Your Care Provider

1.     What’s your birth philosophy?

2.     What is the induction rate at your practice? Episiotomy rate? C-section rate?

3.     How many deliveries do you/your practice perform per month?

4.     Do you classify certain women as “high-risk”?  How does your care change if “high risk”?

5.     How do you regard written birth plans?

6.     At what point in pregnancy do you start thinking about induction?

7.     If I have PROM (premature rupture of membranes) and my labor begins with my water breaking without contractions, how long can I stay at home before coming to the hospital. 

8.     If I’m GBS positive, how long can I stay at home before coming to the hospital?  

9.     Do you support a woman who desires non-directed pushing? 

10.  Do you believe in putting laboring women on a 24 hour time clock after their water breaks? 

 

Ten Questions to Ask YOURSELF about Your Care Provider

1.     How do you feel when you are talking to your care provider? 

2.     Do you feel positive about the birth experience with this provider? 

3.     Do you understand the standards of practice of your provider?

4.     When you visit your care provider, do you have ample time to ask questions?

5.     When you do ask questions, are you satisfied with the answers?

6.     Do you know and agree with your care provider’s philosophy of birth?

7.     Do you feel respected by your care provider and his/her partners?

8.     Do you feel safe?  Do you trust the care given? 

9.     Do you feel empowered by your provider to make decisions about the birth, your body, and your baby?

10.  How do you feel about the birth location and its birth outcomes?