Choosing a care provider that is on the same page as you and your birthing wishes is one of the first steps in preparing for the birth you want. The questions you ask when interviewing a provider can offer some insight into their beliefs surrounding birth and the care that they provide but it's important to look deeper than simple questions about statistics. Here are some ideas to get you started.
1. Look out for always and never. If the response you get to a question about episiotomies is "I never cut episiotomies," that should be a big red flag. Not only could that not possibly be true, but that could also put babies at risk. By no means should interventions be routine but if they are never used than that brings up concerns regarding well-being also. If your provider says "Yes, my patients always move around in labor," then that sounds quite promising. But, again, how can that be true when many providers in our area have epidural rates that hover around the national average of about 76%? Bottom line: if you're getting answers that are so black and white, either ask more questions or interview someone else.
2. Ask "What" questions. This is a great follow-up to the "always/never" response. "What would be a situation where you may do an episiotomy?" "What would be a situation where a woman is not encouraged to move around?" "In what position do you encourage women to push their babies out?" "What" questions will get you a lot more info than simple yes and no questions.
3. Explore the philosophies of others in the practice. Follow-up your previous questions with inquiries as to how the other providers in the practice tend to feel. Ask your provider what they love about the practice that they're in and, if applicable, what drew them to working at the hospital or birth center that they are in. How likely is it that they will be at your birth versus another provider in their practice?
4. Watch their body language. Is your potential provider quick to pack up your chart and look at the door? Are they checking their watch or did they leave their previous engagements at the door, providing you with full attention? Do they respond to your questions before you're even finished asking? Or do they take a moment to absorb what you've said and offer a thoughtful response? Pay attention to the details and the way you feel about your meeting, aside from simply the responses to your queries.
5. Ask if they have any questions for you. Providers should always have questions for you. They should, in an ideal world, also want to make sure that what they have to offer matches up with what you desire for your birth.
As the Philadelphia birth world blooms bigger and brighter, I think it's time I start putting some of the insightful questions I've received and information I've research into a public journal. I hope you'll find this inspiring, empowering, and totally enjoyable.