Updated: Feb 16, 2022
Questions to ask your OB or Midwife during the first prenatal appointment
When you get pregnant, you need to decide whether you plan on seeing an OB or a midwife. I highly recommend interviewing providers if you can. But even if you can't, you can treat the early prenatal appointments like interviews. If you ask your questions and don't like the answers or don't like the provider, you do not need to schedule another appointment with that provider, and you can try someone else. Before scheduling your first appointment, I highly recommend asking local family and friends who have had babies about their birth experiences and, more importantly, their experience with their provider. Keep in mind everyone has different birth goals and philosophies. But you can use these conversations to determine if anyone has recommendations for a provider who can meet your individual needs. Once you get to talk to the provider, you should have a list of questions ready to go. Be sure to include these four questions for your OB/GYN or Midwife:
What is your birth philosophy?
Many providers may hear this question and be taken off guard. "Birth Philosophy" probably wasn't something taught in medical school. However, their response and reactions will tell you a lot. If they scoff at the idea of a birth philosophy and give some kind of half thought out response or put themselves in a position of power/control, that could be a red flag that the provider is not right for you if you plan to have a family-centered birth experience. On the flip side, if your provider grows excited to talk about why they love birth and how they can support your goals, that could be a sign they are a good match.
What is your cesarean rate?
Asking your provider's c-section rate is a pretty common question. The answer needs to be taken with a grain of salt. For instance, if they have a high cesarean rate, one thing to consider is if the majority of their clientele are a high-risk demographic. A more specific question would be "What is your primary cesarean rate in low risk pregnancies" This, instead, doesn't just ask how often they perform cesareans, but how often they perform the first cesarean on a low-risk mom. They may not know this number off hand, but it does open the door for conversation on philosophy surrounding cesarean birth.
How often do you have patients give birth with no medications?
This question is the complete opposite from the previous questions. Even if you don't plan to have an unmedicated childbirth, this opens the door for conversation to gauge how the provider feels about low-intervention and physiological birth. A provider who does not have experience with unmedicated birth, jokes about how they don't understand why women want unmedicated birth, or who has some other off-collar remark may not be a good fit for you.
How do you support VBAC moms?
If you're a first time mom or have never had a cesarean, asking about VBAC may seem irrelevant. But like the previous questions, the response will give you insight to their birth philosophy. A provider who is unsupportive of VBAC, is, in my experience, more likely to be unsupportive of all physiological birth approaches, and more likely to perform cesareans.
If you're planning an out of hospital birth, you should ask about transfer rates, transfer reasons, transfer outcomes, and transfer policies. If, God forbid, you needed to transfer to the hospital, you need to know how that would work from the start. If you would like to learn more about how to feel confident during your pregnancy and birth, click here to learn more about my Birth Confidence Mindset Seminar!
Jaimie is an Author, Doula, IBCLC (lactation consultant) and homeschooling MOM. Jaimie helps women have positive pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding experiences by providing virtual and in person support to pregnant and new mothers. Jaimie hosts a monthly virtual pregnancy support group, prenatal birth and breastfeeding classes, and provides virtual and in person 1:1 support. Contact Jaimie if you are looking for prenatal or postpartum support.