You have mentioned the necessity of finding a health practitioner you trust and feel a connection with. Do you have any tips for how to go about this? Are there particular questions you recommend asking to help “screen” potential midwives and doctors? Any responses that should trigger a warning?
The very first step is to take some time to read and talk with your partner and others so as to clarify what is most important to you about your birth experience. For example, if you feel strongly that you want to give birth in the hospital, a birth center, or at home, if you want a woman or a man as a birth attendant, if you would like pain-relieving medication as an option or not, if you feel safer with high-tech medical care close at hand or as far away as possible.
There are many choices these days around style of birth, so clarifying your “best case scenario” is an essential step in finding the right practitioner. Once you are clear, if at all possible, arrange to have interviews/appointments with 2 or 3 different practitioners, ideally people who have been recommended highly by a woman who has had her/him as a birth attendant and who shares some of your values around your preferred birth style.
When you have the interview/appointment, ask the practitioner to speak about their thoughts/beliefs about the various elements of your preferred birth that are most important to you. Ask open-ended questions so you don’t necessarily let them know what your preferences are. You want to know where they stand. Ask to see the place where you would give birth (birth center, hospital room etc) and see how it feels to you.
Questions to ask if you want a natural birth:
Ask open-ended questions so you don’t necessarily let them know what your preferences are. You want to know where they stand.
- What is your C-section rate?
- How often are your births un-medicated?
If you are interviewing a midwife:
- How many births have you attended?
- How did you get your training?
- What are our back-up arrangements in case of problems? (If an out-of-hospital birth)
See if you can arrange to talk to some other women that midwife has delivered, at least one who had problems and transferred to the hospital. Did they feel well taken care of despite the problem? Did they feel confident of the midwife’s ability to screen and deal with the complication?
This is by far the most important factor in choosing the right person—your sense of trust and confidence.
Most importantly, whether the practitioner be a doctor, nurse-midwife, nurse-practitioner, licensed or unlicensed midwife, feel this question out with your intuition: does this person inspire your trust? Can you let go and surrender and feel confident that you are in good hands? Do you feel you will be treated respectfully and that your preferences will be honored if at all possible? This is by far the most important factor in choosing the right person—your sense of trust and confidence.
A few red flags:
- A condescending attitude and being treated like a child (i.e. “Don’t ask too many questions, honey, just leave it to the experts.”)
- Somebody who seems really inexperienced or poorly trained and can’t answer your questions
- Somebody who treats you like a cog in the wheel, feels that your concerns are insignificant, or who doesn’t share your values around the kind of birth you want.
I hope this is helpful to all you off-beat mama’s out there! Whatever happens, may you feel respected, loved and honored during this amazing rite-of-passage experience!