Have you ever felt like your doctor was looking down their nose at you? Ever had a provider make a suggestion you didn’t want to follow but they didn’t respect your choice? Did you take time to interview them before you hired them? Probably not, huh? Most people don’t and sometimes they end up regretting it.
It’s easy to forget that providers are humans. They are not robots. They have personalities and opinions, and they all practice differently. Because of this, it is vital that you make a good decision when choosing a provider.
I hear you. You’re asking, “How do you decide who to choose?”
I’m glad you asked! You interview them, that’s how. Yes, I said INTERVIEW. YOU are hiring THEM, so YOU ask THEM the questions.
In general, I recommend you interview any provider you are going to hire. However, there are two areas where I think it is vital that you interview.
First, you should always interview any prospective pediatricians or nurse practitioners who will be caring for your children. Becoming a parent is a learning process, so you need a provider who will help you grow. You do not need a provider who will lord over you and be condescending when you have questions. But you also need a provider who respects that you are the parent and you have the right to decide what is best for your child. I will be publishing a post next week with interview questions for a potential pediatric provider. Make sure you sign up for updates so you won’t miss it.
Second, you should always interview any prospective midwife or physician you plan to hire for your birth. Why is it so important? Not only because this person will be caring for you during some of the most important moments of your life, but because this is a highly interpersonal time and it is a very emotional time.
You do not want to have a provider who you do not trust, nor do you want to have a provider with whom you do not feel comfortable. Additionally, you need to know that they will support your reasonable choices, whatever they may be. You need to know they are competent and yet they care enough to get to know you and be personable if that is the kind of provider you want.
How will you know that the providers you choose for these times will fit your needs and expectations without interviewing them? No wise employer hires a worker without a thorough interview process. Neither should you hire ANY healthcare provider without doing the same.
The are three main types of providers who care for women in and around the time of birth. One is a midwife who specializes in the care of normal pregnancies. Another is an obstetrician who is a physician with advanced training to care for women. Obstetricians are also surgeons who can perform cesarean sections (c-sections) along with some other surgeries. Finally, some family practice physicians provide care to women during pregnancy and birth. Some, but not all, are also trained to perform c-sections.
Most good providers will offer “meet and greet” appointments for free. Contact their office, and set up a time to meet with them. This is the first step to making your decision. If a provider won’t have a meet and greet appointment with you, that might just be your answer to all of your questions.
What’s that you say? “But what do I ask them?”
I’m so glad you asked.
Here are 52 questions to ask the prospective provider during your meet and greet appointment, along with 17 questions to ask yourself after the interview.
Interview Questions for Potential Birth Providers
[I encourage you to go through this list and highlight the questions that are most important to you. Most providers will not have the time to answer all of these. The goal is to get a good feel for whether the provider is a good fit for you and your family. Also, realize that some of these questions won’t have to be asked for home birth providers since things like epidurals and most pain medications are not an option in that setting.]
- What is your philosophy about birth?
- How many years have you been attending births?
- How many births have you attended?
- Do you believe in natural, unmedicated birth?
- What percentage of the births you attend are unmedicated?
- What percentage of your patients get an epidural?
- What is your opinion of doulas?
- What is your primary c-section rate? (Number of first-time moms who have c-sections)
- What is your overall c-section rate?
- Where do you have hospital privileges?
- Do you require IV access during labor?
- Do you require continuous fetal monitoring during labor?
- Do you require the mother to stay in the bed for labor?
- Do you cut episiotomies?
- Do you use vacuum extractors or forceps?
- Do you require postpartum Pitocin?
- Do you allow moms to eat or drink during labor?
- How often do you require vaginal exams during labor?
- Is there a time limit for birth to happen after my water breaks?
- What do you do if the baby is breech?
- Do you require certain testing?
- Do you offer alternatives to testing? (e.g. not requiring the “sugar drink” for the gestational diabetes screening test)
- Do you require ultrasounds? If so, when and how many?
- Do you recommend/require vaccinations during pregnancy?
- How do you define “post-dates” or being “overdue”?
- Do you require post-dates testing?
- Do you allow birth photographers?
- Do you require GBS testing?
- If I am GBS positive, do you require treatment?
- What are your thoughts on management of suspected “big babies”?
- What happens if you are unavailable when I go into labor?
- What postpartum care do you offer?
- How often will you see me after the birth of my baby?
- Do you assist with establishing breastfeeding? If not, do you have staff that will assist?
- What experience do you have in dealing with postpartum depression?
- What are your thoughts on artificial rupture of membranes?
- Do you allow for delayed cord clamping?
- Do you actively manage the birth of the placenta or will you allow it to come in its own time?
- Will there be any students, residents, or apprentices working with you?
- Why should I hire you instead of other providers?
For midwives only:
- What situations would cause me to “risk out” of your care?
- Do you offer any in-home care?
- How many births do you take per month? (for home birth midwives)
- Do you use a fetoscope or doppler to monitor the baby’s heart rate?
- What is your transfer rate for moms in labor?
- What is your transfer protocol in case of an emergency? (for out-of-hospital midwives)
- What equipment do you carry to a birth? (for home birth midwives)
- What medications do you have at a birth to manage emergencies? (for home birth midwives)
- Are you certified in Neonatal Resuscitation (NRP)?
- Do you have a collaborating physician? If so, who is it?
- Do you offer water birth? If so, do you provide a tub or have tubs in every room (for birth center)?
- What assistant staff are present at the births you attend?
After the interview, you also need to ask yourself some questions.
- Do I trust this provider?
- Did this provider talk to me on my level or talk over my head?
- Did I feel rushed?
- Do I feel like this provider will trust me to decide what is best for my baby and me?
- Do I have a good feeling about this provider?
- Do I have any reservations about this provider?
- Does this provider balance interpersonal relationships with providing care well?
- Did this provider have any negativity towards my questions?
- Did you enjoy your time with this provider?
- Did you have any “sixth sense” reactions to this provider?
- If your partner was with you, did he/she have any “sixth sense” reactions?
- Was the office staff nice/helpful/respectful?
- Did I like the overall feel of the office?
- Was the office and waiting area clean/neat/comfortable?
- Did other people in the waiting room seem to be waiting a long time?
- Does this provider accept your insurance (if applicable)?
- Does the hospital with which this provider has privileges accept your insurance (if applicable)?
I will be offering a printable list soon, but until then, please feel free to print out this list to take with you to your appointment.
If there are questions you are unsure about or you don’t know why they matter, please comment below. I will plan to elaborate on those points in future posts as you request.