3 Questions to Ask Care Providers When You’re Expecting

Without question, there are some definite things worth knowing about your care provider’s approach to birth. Here are my top three questions to ask so you will know what to expect before the distant months become just weeks or days before the anticipated day.

What do you think about our hiring a doula?

If you are someone who values the emotional, physical, and informational support of a doula, it would be helpful to know if this is something your care provider opposes or supports. A care provider’s response to this will point to a critical alignment or misalignment in values. A doula may not be for everyone, however if you have determined that a doula is for you, then it stands to reason you would want your care provider to appreciate her value. Over the years many care providers have grown to appreciate the benefits of hiring a doula and some will even insist you do! The evidence couldn’t be more clear that the presence of a doula positively influences a mother’s satisfaction in her birth experience and lowers cesarean rates. If you agree, wouldn’t you want your care provider to agree too?

What happens if I go past my due date? 

Does your care provider routinely induce all their patients at 40 or 41 weeks without specific medical indication or do they support patient monitoring and individualized care? Because going past your due date is so common (yes, it could happen to you!) and the approaches to patient care are so different this is an important one to know. Based on their response you may choose to learn more about inductions and engage your care provider in a conversation to reach a shared decision that addresses your concerns and preferences.

What happens if my water breaks before I start having contractions?

This is another one where approaches vary widely. Some care providers will want you to come to the hospital immediately, others will give you more time. Some up to 24 hours before asking their patients to come in. Every case is unique. But if the water is clear and baby is moving, you have a case to wait. This is one of the most common occurrences that can derail a “plan to labor at home as long as possible.” The chief concern is risk of infection which is most apt to increase with vaginal exams, something easiest to avoid by staying out of the hospital. Still, whatever you and your care provider decide, you always reserve the right to decline vaginal exams at the hospital, with or without your water broken.  

Most people say they want to avoid unnecessary medical interventions, regardless of whether they are planning a natural or medicated birth. Plans change fast when the rubber meets the road. I’ve had many a client wish they’d inquired sooner to discover just how misaligned they were from their care provider. Others have felt fortunate to learn what to expect well in advance so they could either speak with their care providers in depth about their preferences or, in some situations, to find a better fit.