Your choice of care provider is one of the most important decisions you will make in your pregnancy.
The care you receive during pregnancy sets the tone for whether or not your voice will be heard throughout your pregnancy, during your birth, and in your postpartum days.
Why does it matter?
Studies have shown that birthing folks who have a positive, trusting relationship with their provider, withs transparent communication, where their experiences/embodied knowledge are acknowledged and respected, have a significantly lower likelihood of experiencing birth trauma.
One of the most common threads between those who have experienced birth trauma continues to be less related to the actual events, and more related to instances where the birthing person felt their voice and autonomy were lost in the process - particularly, instances where their embodied knowledge was disregarded by their provider, and instances where they felt ill-informed.
During the birth process, trust in the people around you and your surroundings is a factor that helps your body to produce oxytocin (which causes labor to progress), while feelings of fear and distrust trigger your body to produce adrenaline (which halts production of oxytocin, causing labor to stall).
Although the mind is good at lying, the body NEVER lies.
Your care provider is the main point of contact in your care team, throughout your pregnancy. You need to feel as though you trust them. If you don't, you need a new provider, period.
A great way to ensure the practice providing your pregnancy care is a good fit is to call their front desk, and arrange a phone interview with one of their OBs or Midwives. Many offices do this, and if they are unwilling to have this conversation with you - that is an immediate red flag that they aren't going to listen to you later down the line.
So, what questions should I ask my care provider?
How many births did you attend in the last week? How many of those were inductions or required augmentation, and how many were cesareans?
For the birth of my baby, ________ is very important to me. Is this standard practice for you? Do you have experience with this/are you comfortable accommodating my preferences?
What would you say is the most common reason for induction in your practice? The most common reason for cesarean?
What does informed consent mean to you?
What will happen right after my baby is born?
How often do you work with doulas? What is your opinion on folks utilizing a doula for one-to-one support?
What Questions should I ask myself?
Do I feel comfortable asking questions in my appointments?
Do my appointments feel rushed?
Do I feel like my questions are welcomed, or am I made to feel like a nuisance (vibes matter here)?
Do I feel as though they are being transparent with me?
If I bring up questions about birth this early in my pregnancy, are they open to discussing or closed off?
When I think about an upcoming appointment or discussion, does my body relax or tense up?
Do I feel as though they honor the fact that this is a huge life event for me?
Do I trust them to respect my wishes, while also keeping myself and baby safe?
What if they are not a good fit? How do I go about changing providers?
If you have any 'off' feelings after interviewing your provider, or after ANY appointment, you have the right to find care from another provider.
If you choose to change providers, a doula can be INCREDIBLY helpful, as they are familiar with the local providers and can help you find someone who aligns with your values and is a good fit for you.
To transfer your care, simply call your current practice to request all medical records to be sent to you (you do not have to give a reason). Set up an appointment at the new practice you have chosen - if, after your interview or first appointment, you feel as though you are a good fit, hand over your medical records!
How Late is Too Late to make a provider switch?
It is NEVER too late in your pregnancy to make the switch - not even in the late third trimester.
You deserve care that feels right, comfortable, and safe for you.
Remember, your care provider works for YOU, not the other way around.
... And ALWAYS trust your gut!