When you are interviewing your care provider (midwife, nurse-midwife, or doctor) before signing on for care (and you definitely should!), it’s difficult to know what questions to ask. Some people worry that by asking questions, they will inadvertently offend the provider, or that they will “ask a stupid question” and be looked down upon. I’ll tell you this right now….if your care provider is offended or treats you poorly for asking a legitimate question, they’re not the provider for you! So how do you know what questions to ask and how to go about interviewing a care provider? I’ll walk you through it…
When a potential client calls me, I always ask them if they would like to meet me in person before they make a decision. An in-person interview is a great way to see if you and your provider will make a good team and if the energy is right between you. I know that sounds hippy-dippy, but it’s true! Everyone has an energy to them and sometimes it works well with yours and sometimes it doesn’t. If when you’re talking with them, they’re driving you crazy and you can’t wait to leave, that’s definitely not someone you want to be working with for 9 months.
Some other things to think about, before you even start asking your questions, are: Did this person make time for you without making you feel like you were inconveniencing them? Were they easy to get ahold of or did they return your call quickly? Are they charging you for this interview? Do you feel rushed to hurry up or relaxed in their presence? Do you feel comfortable talking to this person? Did they address you and your partner or did they leave one of you feeling left out? These might not be deal breakers for you, but they should definitely be factors in your decision.
So once you’re actually sitting down and talking (and hopefully the care provider is receptive to your questions), here are some questions I’d recommend you asking. While all of these questions might not apply or be important to you, they’ll help you to figure out if your provider is supportive of natural childbirth and give you an idea of what you can expect with them…
- What is your philosophy regarding pregnancy and childbirth?
- What made you decide to become a midwife/nurse-midwife/doctor?
- What were your births or the births of your children like?
- How many clients/patients do you take on a monthly basis?
- Will you be on vacation near my due date (especially important if you are due near a major holiday)?
- If I have a problem and it is after office hours, or on a weekend, how can I get ahold of you?
- Would you consider me to be a “higher risk” client/patient because of a certain condition/status? (ex: being age 35 or greater, having had 4 or more prior babies, history of miscarriage, past cesarean section delivery, BMI of 30 or more, etc)
- Can you provide me with letters of reference or contact information for past clients/patients (with their consent, of course) who could talk to me more about what it was like being a client/patient of yours?
- What tests/procedures during pregnancy and birth are mandatory? Which are optional?
- How long will I get to spend with you personally during each of my prenatal appointments?
- What does a typical prenatal visit look like?
- Can I bring my children to my appointments? Can they be involved in my care (helping to measure belly, holding Doppler to listen to heart beat, etc)?
- How many of your clients/patients who intended to birth without pain medications actually go on to do so?
- What is your cesarean section rate? Episiotomy rate?
- What percentage of your clients/patients end up having perineal tearing that needs to be repaired?
- Do you routinely do delayed cord clamping?
- How long can my baby and I be skin-to-skin after birth without interruption?
- For what reasons would you ever want to induce my labor? How far past my due-date can I be before you’ll want to induce?
- Can I eat and drink during labor? Have freedom of movement?
- How do you feel about intermittent fetal monitoring in labor?
- Do I have to have an IV during labor?
- Who will you have present for my birth (assistant, nurse, student, etc)?
- Will you be present at my birth or do you work with others who might ever be there instead of you?
- Can I have anyone I want present to support me in labor or am I limited to who or how many people can be present?
- Can I have pictures taken of my labor and birth?
- What do you think of “birth plans”?
For Out-of-Hospital Midwives Only:
- What is your personal transport rate of clients who ended up at the hospital? (not the statistical rate for across the country averages) What were some of the causes for these transports?
- Who is your collaborating physician and what is his/her view of natural childbirth and midwives?
- What is your protocol in case you have 2 clients in labor at the same time?
- At what point will you transport me for an induction of labor?
- How do you feel about water birth? Do your clients have many water births?
While it might seem like these are a lot of questions to be asking, I can assure you, they’re all important. Your provider’s answers to these questions (both how they answer it and the answer itself) will help you to determine if they are the right fit for you. You wouldn’t hire a nanny, general contractor, or employee without questioning them thoroughly, so why does our society view this any differently? The person you choose could mean the difference between you having the birth you desire and every intervention imaginable. You are PAYING this person for a service! You are the customer! Don’t settle!!! If you've already signed on with someone when you discover they're not the right fit for you, don't be afraid to switch providers! Sometimes the only thing that makes a pregnancy high-risk or keeps it from being everything you want, is your choice of care provider.