You’re pregnant- congratulations! Now it’s time to start interviewing maternity care providers. Yes, you heard that right. Not all providers are created equal, and interviewing a few before choosing one allows you to find the best one for you. It may seem like a daunting task, but it’s worth it to make sure you’re comfortable with the person who will be helping to bring your baby into the world.
Here’s the scoop. As a pregnant person of color, it’s essential to be in the driver’s seat of your maternity care. These systems can be intimidating and hard to navigate, but having the proper care provider by your side will make the process smoother and more enjoyable.
Here are four reasons why interviewing your maternity care provider is a must:
1) You need someone who will be with you through the entire process- from prenatal visits to delivery and postpartum care.
2) You need someone who listens to what your wants and needs.
3) You need someone who has the experience and can provide you with the best possible outcome.
4) You need someone you feel comfortable with!
So, take the time to interview at least three providers and see which one is the best fit for you and your family!
First, let’s break down the different routes you can take to maternity care.
In the United States, more than 98% of births happen in hospitals. Among all the birth settings, hospitals provide the most comprehensive medical interventions for pregnant women and newborns. However, there is wide variation in provider types and practices among hospitals. Meaning, that not every hospital is created equal, and here are a few things you should research
- What is the hospital’s induction rate? What is the episiotomy rate? Epidural rate? Forceps/vacuum rates? Cesarean rates? VBAC rate?
- Does the hospital utilize students or residents in any way? – This is important, especially if you are at a teaching hospital.
- Does the hospital have doulas on staff?
- Do they have a visitor policy in labor? COVID-19 restrictions?
- What types of birthing rooms are available? Can you labor, give birth and recover in one room?
What is a birth center? A birthing center is a healthcare facility staffed by nurse-midwives, midwives, or obstetricians, for mothers in labor, with who doulas and coaches may assist. The midwives monitor the labor and well-being of the mother and fetus during birth. The mother can be transferred to a hospital if additional medical assistance is required. Here are a few questions to consider when choosing a birth center.
- What might lead you to view me as “high-risk,” and how would that affect my care?
- Do you have any policies that limit the number of people who may be with me during labor? And birth? Can the baby’s siblings be present? Is there an age restriction?
- Do you have experience with trained labor support (doulas) during labor and birth? Do you
- Encourage the use of doula care? Did You Know? Doula care offers a lot of benefits and has no known risks.
- What hospital would I use if a transfer becomes necessary at any point? How can I arrange to take a hospital tour?
- What problems or complications in pregnancy would require me to change to a different care provider and plan to give birth in a hospital?
Last but not least, let’s talk about home births. Did you know that until the early 1900s, most babies were born at home surrounded by women from the community? It has been a woman-centered and family-focused event since the beginning of time, and it’s a tradition that is still a safe and beautiful way to bring new life into this world.
Here are a few things for YOU to consider if you choose a home birth
The first thing to know is that home births are usually reserved for women in good health with low-risk pregnancies. This means you don’t have chronic medical conditions (such as heart disease or hypertension) or pregnancy complications (like preeclampsia, placenta previa, or gestational diabetes). Check with your medical provider to ensure that this is a safe route for you to choose.
Secondly, you will want to hire a midwife to assist you during your birth. Here are a few questions to ask when choosing a midwife
- How many births have they attended as a primary and as an assistant midwife? Having someone with at least 100 births in their experience is a good start.
- Ask about the range of complications they assist with
- What kind of insurance coverage is available for this type of service, if any?
- Where will prenatal visits take place? If this hasn’t been determined yet, find out if she will come to your home, if she has an office or uses a birth center or other location.
- Do you have a backup midwife should you not be available? When can I meet them?
- Do I need to supply my own birth kit?
- What is your typical postpartum care schedule? When can I expect to check in with you? How many home visits will I have with you, and where might other visits take place?
So, how do you choose the right maternity care provider for you and your family? It’s important to start by asking yourself what’s important to you. What are your priorities? Do you want a more natural birth experience? Are you looking for a hospital with a good NICU in case of an emergency? Once you have a better idea of what’s most important to you, it will be easier to start interviewing providers. We know that making this decision can feel overwhelming, so we put together an in-depth checklist to help make the process a little bit easier. Sign up for our newsletter below, and we’ll send it straight to your inbox!
Download the FREE Maternity Care Provider Interview Questions Checklist, the start of putting you in the driver’s seat of your care.