by Julie Snyder
Your birthing experience is an intensely personal moment in time you'll remember forever.
It's also a moment in your life you want to be prepared for, in control of and ready as much as possible and ahead of time. Parents are really in charge of how they want the big day to go -- barring the unforeseen.
Your doctor or midwife will be your best friend for the next few months. Their key role can make all the difference between a birth experience you'll cherish versus one you won't.
These top ten questions should empower your decision-making process and help you choose the perfect provider to help deliver your baby.
Take Charge of Your Birth Experience
1. What Is Your Philosophy Regarding Birth?
This question gives you an idea how the provider views birth and how they may try and control the process. Do they see birth as a medical process to be monitored and managed? A process which is fraught with potential minefields that requires preventative procedures? A natural process with few necessary interventions?
2. What Is My Role in Decision Making?
This answer will help you choose someone willing to get you involved and inform you throughout your pregnancy and birth -- as much as you'd like. You will wish to connect with someone that is willing to listen, and if they disagree -- at least take the time to explain why.
3. What Can I Expect During My Visits?
Will appointments focus on learning or will they mainly be preventative care? How often will you see me? Which tests do you suggest and when? Do I have to have internal exams?
4. What is Your Opinion of Birth Plans?
Are children allowed at the birth? At which point would you deviate from my birth plan? How will you help me insure that hospital staff follows my wishes? Do you have any samples that I could review to help me get started in creating my own birth plan?
5. Do You Encourage Vaginal Births After Caesarean?
Will I be able to attempt a VBAC at the hospital where you practice? If so, what can I do to help prepare my body for the more natural outcome I desire? Will you review my previous birth experience to help me pinpoint if there was something we could have done differently in hindsight?
6. What is Your Induction Rate?
A medical caregiver with unusually high induction rates may raise a red flag. Weigh whether the doctor is dealing with high-risk patients. You'll also want to ask at what point does the midwife or doctor feel induction of labor should be considered?
7. What Is Your C-Section Rate?
You'll also want to know in what situations will the provider recommend a caesarean section. If I do have a c-section, will I be able to bond with the baby right away? Do you encourage skin-to-skin contact?
8. How Do You Manage the Third Stage of Labor?
Can we delay cutting the cord? Can I nurse the baby right away? Do you allow the placenta to deliver naturally. Can I take the placenta home?
9. How Do I Contact You?
Are you on call 24-hours a day? How do I reach you in an emergency or if I am entering labor? Who covers for you if you're unavailable? Do you use email to answer questions?
10. After the Baby's Born
Do you see me postpartum? Do you work with a pediatrician? Do you recommend or have access to a well-child program?
These open-ended questions can help you find the birth experience you want. Suggest other questions moms-to-be should ask as they interview a potential midwife or doctor!
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.