Questions to Ask Your Provider

How to get to know your prenatal provider and ask the right questions before you give birth.

Selecting a primary provider, whether it is a midwife or obstetrician, is such a big decision in your life. Even if you have been seeing a provider for your regular gynecological check-ups, giving birth brings on a whole new set of options.

It’s always a good idea to have on hand several interview questions to ask when you are in the process of selecting the provider that will help you give birth to your baby. It is crucial for you to establish a trusting relationship and begin an open communication with him or her as you walk through the next nine months together.

Here are some interview questions to ask your provider to get you started. As you talk with your midwife or obstetrician, there is a space for you to make a note next to that particular item:

1. When would you like me to come to the birth center/hospital?

When water breaks____

Call and stay home until contractions start____

Come to office/hospital/birth center to monitor baby and then return home if not active____

Come immediately to hospital/birth center____

Depends on mother’s group B strep result____

Contractions _____ minutes apart for _____ long

2. What are your recommendations if water breaks before contractions begin?

3. How long after water breaks would you recommend starting pitocin?

4. What is your philosophy regarding episiotomies? Under what circumstances would you perform them? What percentage of the time do you and your partners perform episiotomies?

5. Are you supportive of a delayed onset of pushing or laboring down (allowing the mother to push when she feels the urge vs. automatically pushing at 10 cm?)

6. What is your protocol or routine regarding the following:

a. IV’s

b. Continuous monitoring

c. Eating/Drinking

d. Walking during labor

e. Walking with ruptured membranes

f. Showering/Bathing

g. AROM (breaking water) at ______ cm

h. Internal Monitoring

i. Pitocin post-delivery

7. How do you feel about natural/unmedicated birth?

8. If I chose to use an epidural, when would you recommend I receive it?

9. Under what circumstances would you recommend an induction of labor?

10. How long after my due date will you wait before inducing labor?

11. Do you routinely use Cytotec or Prostaglandin gel to ripen the cervix before inductions?

12. Do you believe in active management? (Progress of less than 1cm per hour will call for AROM or pitocin)

13. What non-medical ways of stimulating labor do you recommend?

a. Herbs ____

b. Nipple Stimulation ____

c. Castor Oil _____

d. Intercourse (before water breaks) _____

e. Enema _____

f. Acupuncture/acupressure _____

g. None _____

14. How do you define “failure to progress?” How long would you wait before doing a cesarean?

15. What positions for the birth/delivery are you comfortable with?

a. Side-lying___

b. Squatting___

c. Hands & knees___

d. Kneeling___

e. Semi-seated at 45 deg angle in bed___

f. Sem-seated in stirrups only___

16. Are you supportive of VBAC? What is your VBAC rate? What are your standard routines for VBAC mothers?

17. Who is your back-up? Under what circumstances would I see him/her?

Not all of these questions that you ask your provider are pertinent to you in your individual care. Select only those questions that are important to you when you interview each individual obstetrician or midwife.

If there are several providers in the same practice, be sure to discuss these issues with as many as possible and early in your pregnancy.

What were the best questions you asked your provider? Tell us about it.