Questions to Ask When Interviewing a Health Care Provider

What is your educational background and philosophy of care? Are you licensed?
How long have you been in practice and how many births have you attended?
 Is your practice an individual practice? A group practice?
If it's a group practice, how many health care providers are in the group?
Will I get to meet all of them before I give birth? Who will attend my birth?
If it is an individual practice, what are your back-up arrangements? 
Where do you deliver babies?
Do you have hospital privileges? 
Will I be separated from my partner at any time during labor or birth? 
What are your usual policies and practices about: IV's (intravenous lines) in labor, moving around during labor, eating and drinking in labor, and positions for birth? 
How do you define "high-risk"? 
Do I fall into that category (based on the information I have given you)?
How do you handle high-risk births?
What prenatal tests do you routinely order?
How do you monitor the baby during labor? Do you use electronic fetal monitoring (EFM)?
Is there an option to use a Doppler (hand-held ultrasound device) or a fetoscope (stethoscope) to listen to the baby's heart? What role do I play in making that decision?
How often and under what circumstances do you use episiotomy, forceps, and vacuum extraction? What about labor induction?
How often do you perform cesarean sections and what are the most common reasons that you perform them? What do you think about vaginal birth after a previous cesarean (VBAC)?
Will you explain the benefits and risks of every procedure, drug, test, or treatment you recommend? And the benefits and risks of alternatives? 
What happens if I choose to refuse a procedure, drug, test, or treatment? 
What drug-free methods (such as labor support, tubs and showers, and birth balls) do you use to manage labor pain? 
What drugs (such as opioids and epidurals) do you use to manage labor pain?
How do you feel about a doula (a woman trained to provide continuous support during labor) being with me during labor?
Can my partner and/or family (including siblings) participate in the labor and the birth? 
Can I hold my baby right after birth? For how long can the baby stay with me after birth?
What is the hospital policy about rooming-in with my baby? 
What is the usual hospital stay after a vaginal birth? A cesarean birth? 
How can we work together to help ensure that breastfeeding gets off to a good start? 
What breastfeeding support resources are available? 
Are breastfed babies given pacifiers or bottles of water or formula in the hospital? 
What are your fees? Does health insurance routinely cover your practice?
(Note: Be sure to check with your own insurer for specifics on coverage.)
Can we pay in installments or do you require payment all at once?

Electronic fetal monitoring (EFM) is a form of ultrasound testing used during labor to determine the fetal heart rate and the strength of your contractions. Two plastic belts, attached to a machine that prints out results, are strapped around your belly. EFM limits your ability to move around,and it has not been shown to improve birth outcomes.EFM increases your chances of an "assisted"vaginal birth (with vacuum extraction or forceps) and cesarean section.

Episiotomy is a cut made in the vagina to enlarge it for birth.

Forceps are large spoon-shaped metal tongs that are inserted into the vagina and fit around the baby's head to help guide the baby out of the birth canal during birth

Vacuum extractor
is a tool with a rubber or plastic cup that is inserted into the vagina and attached to the baby's head to help guide the baby out of the birth canal.

Labor induction is a means of artificially starting labor, usually by giving the mother drugs or by breaking the bag of water.

Cesarean section (or c-section ) is an operation by which a fetus is taken from the uterus by cutting through the walls of the abdomen and uterus.

Most recent page update: 9/9/2010

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Founded in 1918, Childbirth Connection has joined forces with and become a core program of the National Partnership for Women & Families. Together, these two women's health powerhouses are transforming maternity care in the United States.
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