THE TOP 10 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR MIDWIFE/DOCTOR/DOULA
As a nation we are generally way too accepting of the ‘spiel’ (often referred to as the ‘sales pitch), just because it comes from someone in authority, that is, a doctor or midwife
We are not really a very questioning society – especially when it comes to health. Many assume that a doctor, radiologist, chiropractor, acupuncturist, midwife, nurse all know more about your body’s health, than you do!
They are, supposedly, the experts, but should we blindly accept health advice, without question?
Especially when it comes to pregnancy care because you are NOT SICK, and you DO NOT NEED FIXING!
DO YOURSELF AND YOUR BABY A FAVOUR AND MAKE SURE YOU GET THE RIGHT CARE AND QUESTION, QUESTION, QUESTION
It is essential to shop around for the right caregiver for you, the right place to birth, the right prenatal education and the right doula. That sounds like a lot of shopping around but think about it – you are young, fit, healthy and this is YOUR baby, and this is the beginning of parenting – sourcing the right options for you and your baby. This is what you will be doing, on behalf of your baby/child, probably forever but at least for the next 20 years. It starts from conception.
An important note: DO NOT fall for the sales pitch (that is exactly what it is if you are interviewing an obstetrician). They want your business! So if you open the conversation with “I want to have a natural birth” they will sell you that! If you open with ‘I’m terrified and my sister/mother all had caesareans’ then they will run with that!
You are in charge, so take charge and ask these questions if you are interviewing an obstetrician (and you need to meet with at least 2)
- How long have you been practicing?
- What are your statistics? (be careful here not to get the hospital stats.) You want their personal stats. What is your caesarean rate?, what is your normal birth rate?, what is your forceps/ventouse rate?, what is your episiotomy rate?
- What is your view about normal birth?
- How do you see your role in a normal birth?
- Who do you work with? (all work with other obstetricians – can’t be on-call 24/7) so find out the ratio. Do you have a 1 in 6 chance of seeing this obstetrician at your birth, or 1 in 3?
- How many times throughout pregnancy would I meet with your fill-in?
- How many weekends do you have off?
- What is your feeling about ‘testing’ during pregnancy? An important note: It is purely part of a marketing plan to have an ultrasound machine in the obstetrician’s office. Whilst the jury is still out on potential harm to your unborn baby by ultrasound, there is evidence to show that babies do not like ultrasound
“the long term effects of repeated ultrasound exposure on a foetus are not fully known. It is therefore best to only have as many scans as your doctor feels necessary for medical reasons. The ultrasound probe emits high frequency sound waves that bounce off your baby to produce an image.
While there is no proof that ultrasounds are harmful to the baby, it heats the baby’s tissues slightly and can also cause small bubbles in tissue.” (Cochrane research)
- What is your experience with birth plans? This is a very important question. You want to make sure that your birth plan will be respected. It is quite common for an obstetrician to tell women they do not need one as they are in charge! “I’m the captain of the ship” or “the pilot of the plane”, or “I’ve got way more experience than you have” (I have heard all of these and many more). Statements like these should alert a woman to some power and control issues! Remember YOU, the pregnant woman are in charge of YOUR pregnancy and baby. You are the expert.
- What is your view about doulas? Be alarmed if anyone says you don’t need a doula! Every pregnant woman deserves a doula and this is your choice.
Questions for Midwives
If you are attending a midwifery model of care it is also important to ask most of the above questions, in particular how many midwives in the ‘team’ and what guarantee will your elected primary midwife be at the birth?
Questions for Doulas
- How long have you been practicing?
- Where did you do your doula training?
- What is the qualifications of your trainer?
- What is your experience as a doula?
- Do you work with a back-up doula?
- What will you be doing during labour and birth?
- How will your role affect my partner?
- What is the time frame for being on-call (this should be 37-42 weeks pregnancy) with some flexibility.
- How quickly can you be with me at home or hospital when I go into labour?
- What is your experience in working with staff in hospitals?
Doulas are wonderful, amazing women who should always be on the same page as the birthing woman, supporting that woman in what she wants – NOT what the doula thinks should happen!
For Dads a doula is essential support. Having a doula simply allows a Dad to relax and enjoy becoming a Dad, whatever that looks like for him on the day.
If you would like more information about how to shop around then you will find it in both my books here: