10 Questions to Ask Your Provider about Pregnancy, Birth, & Postpartum from BBS Senior Doula Kerry Reynolds

Kerry Reynolds is a Balanced Birth Support Senior Doula serving Metro DC & Greater Maryland. She has been a birth doula for over a decade with tons of experience supporting all kinds of births including home birth, medicated and nonmedicated hospital, cesarean birth, twin deliveries, LGBTQ families and VBAC deliveries. Learn more about Kerry by visiting her Balanced Birth Support profile.

Getting to know your doctor or midwife is an important part of preparing for birth & postpartum.  Its essential that you and your care provider are on the same page with your birth intentions and that you are comfortable with them and they are comfortable with you.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with divergent philosophies on birth, but being on the same page helps to keep your birth running smoothly and can avoid negative situations. Kerry has put together a list of 10 questions to help you open up a conversation with your care provider so that your relationship can get off on the right foot.

What is your general philosophy on pregnancy, labor, birth & postpartum?

Don't assume that your care provider has the same philosophy as you towards birth. Asking about how your care provider views pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum helps make sure that you are both on the same page and making it more likely that you will be supported in the birth that you envision and able to handle any challenges that arise.

What is your C-section rate?

C-sections are absolutely life-saving medical procedures, but it is a major surgery, impacting recovery time and breastfeeding. Some providers aren't comfortable waiting for a stalled labor to progress, performing a VBAC, or delivering a breech baby or twins.  There is nothing wrong with any of that, but you want to make sure that you know about that ahead of time and not when you show up in labor!

How much time will you spend with me at each appointment?

This might be the most important question that you ask your provider.   Busy doctors who only schedule a short amount of time per appointment may feel rushed during your appointment and you may not feel comfortable asking the list of questions that you have. Make sure to find a care provider with whom you feel comfortable taking the time to ask all the questions. Also, make sure to discuss with your care provider about how to reach them if you have additional questions and when you should expect to receive an answer.

What is your view on nutrition and weight gain during pregnancy?

Every single care provider wants you to have a healthy pregnancy- for both you and baby. Some providers are comfortable with herbal remedies and supplementation, while others feel more comfortable with more traditional methods, such as store bought vitamins. Some providers will give you a laundry list of foods to eat and not eat, recipes, and some even will not take you as a patient if you aren't willing to agree to their terms about nutrition. Understanding your care providers view of nutrition during pregnancy, and knowing how this fits into your lifestyle can help you find the right provider.

How do you feel about having a doula as part of my care team?

Doulas can be essential part of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum care teams, but not all doctors are comfortable having a doula present at births.  If you feel strongly that you want a doula at your birth, make sure that your care provider is comfortable working with doulas.

What birthing positions do you feel comfortable with during labor & delivery?

During labor and birth, you may feel the need to get up and move around, and you may want to give birth to your baby in a unconventional position, such as standing or in a water birthing tub. Care providers have different comfort levels with movement and positions during labor and delivery. Even if you plan on an epidural or other medical pain relief, movement during labor and birth helps with pain relief, getting the baby in a good position, and if you are comfortable during the birth you are more likely to avoid additional complications. Find a care provider that supports movement if you think that you might want to spend time moving around.

Do you encourage and support VBACs? If so, in what ways?

A VBAC or vaginal birth after cesarean, is absolutely a safe option for those who have had previous c-sections.  While many care providers aren't comfortable with supporting VBACs, there are also many providers who are! If you are attempting to have a VBAC, it is essential to have a provider who supports that from the beginning and will discuss all of the details with you ahead of time. If you are planning to have a VBAC, make absolutely sure your provider supports them - you don't want to find out too late that they don't!

What is your protocol for avoiding postpartum hemmorage?

Postpartum hemorrhage is a very serious complication with a variety of causes and risk factors.  Understanding what your care provider will do following birth to reduce the risk of hemmorage is extremely important.  You will also know if you have any specific risk factors and what to expect in the postpartum period. Also if unexpected complications arise, you will know ahead of time what to expect and how the doctor will handle it.

Are you comfortable with delayed cord clamping and immediate skin to skin?

There are countless benefits to delayed cord clamping and immediate skin to skin, including higher iron levels in baby, increased breastfeeding success, and also helps to regulate the baby's heartbeat. If you feel strongly that you want delayed cord clamping and immediate skin to skin, it is essential that you have a provider who regularly supports birthing families in those goals.  Its not enough just to have it on your birth plan, as in the moment a care provider can sometimes forget if they are in the habit of quick cord clamping and taking the baby away for vitals. Also, be sure to remind your care team when you arrive at the hospital.

When will I see you for a postpartum visit?

Unfortunately, the norm for most hospital births is one postpartum appointment at 6 weeks after birth.  Because you may have lots of question postpartum or experiencing mental health challenges, it's important to know how best to reach your doctor in the postpartum period, or if they offer additional appointments.

Author: Renee Corbino

Renee keeps Balanced Birth Support organized and amazing as the Administrative Manager. She lives in Sarasota, Florida with her husband and two cute little boys. She is a breech birthing mama and supporter of empowering births.

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