Choosing Your Prenatal Care Provider

Finding a doctor to suit your needs and your personality

Finding a doctor, midwife or specialist to help you through your pregnancy is not always an easy feat. While it may be perfectly reasonable to open up the phone book and call the first listing you find for a plumber, that's not a great approach when medical care is involved. For some, the pickings are slim, while others practically have doctors fighting for the right to call them a patient. A lot depends on where you live, what kind of coverage you have and just what kind of caregiver you're considering. In any case, you'll need to devote some attention and effort to your quest for a competent and amiable prenatal care provider, so begin with some good advice and helpful tools to weigh your options.

What to Consider when Choosing a Doctor

The first step to choosing a caregiver is to outline your own vision for the big day. Do you picture a homebirth in the comfort of familiar surroundings, or is it important for you to have the latest hospital technology in arm's reach throughout your labor and delivery? Do you prefer the privacy and sensitivity of a midwife or the broad knowledge and medical demeanor of an obstetrician? If it helps, make a list to clarify exactly what you want and don't want, and be thorough. When it comes time to interview a doctor or midwife, you'll save yourself a lot of time and avoid problems down the road if you make sure that you and your care provider share the same childbirth philosophy and are willing to work as a team for the good of your baby.

One of the best resources is a woman who has already gone through this process. Speak with friends, childbirth classmates and family members to get a feel for the types of things that are central to the experience. If you've never given birth, there are probably lots of things you have no idea you don't know, and sometimes the best way to uncover these issues is through casual, comfortable and honest conversation with other moms.

Preparing for the Interview with a Doctor

  • What facilities and equipment do you have access to?
  • Do you belong to a group practice or do you attend all your patients' births?
  • Which tests and procedures do you recommend to your patients?
  • What is your policy on labor interventions?
  • Who do you (and the hospital) allow to be in the birthing room?>
  • What are your vaginal birth rates? VBAC rates?
  • Have you worked with doulas and would you recommend any in particular?
  • Which medications do you use for pain relief?

You will likely come up with many more questions, and that's great. Don't worry about taking up too much of the doctor's time with your pages of questions: it is better that you find out now whether or not this is the care provider for you rather than halfway through your pregnancy, when it can be more difficult to find another doctor or midwife.