One of the most important things a mother will ever do is choose where and how she will give birth. It’s a common myth that birth is just one day of your life, women spend a lifetime recounting their birth stories. The way you meet your baby will be engraved on your memory forever and it can have lasting health implications for both of you. So don’t be lulled into a false sense of security, don’t just go with the social norm, start out as you mean to continue, by making the best choices you can and being fully informed!
Whatever you do, don’t march into the nearest hospital or doctor’s office and assume they will be the right fit for you just because of their qualifications or advertisements. You need to interview all sorts of providers, from independent midwives, and birth centres (assuming there is one near you) to hospitals and surgeons, to decide who offers the best service, who really wants to provide you with the service you want.
“Whenever and however you give birth, your experience will impact your emotions, your mind, your body, and your spirit for the rest of your life.”
Ina May Gaskin
If you want a normal physiological birth it pays to be super informed and very savvy about your choices, you need to be thoroughly informed about any possible differences there might be between your personal definition of natural birth and your care providers methods when they attend birth.
Here are some questions to ask care providers
- What is your definition of a full term pregnancy and what if I go past that?
- For what reasons do you recommend a caesarean prior to, or during labour?
- When do you consider stalled labour to be a problem and how would you manage it?
- How will you detect and manage any emergencies?
- How many of your clients give birth on their back?
- How many episiotomies have you given in the last year and under what circumstances?
- Are you skilled with breech births and twins?
- Do you prefer continuous or intermittent monitoring in labour?
- Under what circumstances would you recommend an induction?
- How often will you recommend a vaginal exam before and during labour?
- Are you planning to take any holidays in the month before, or after I am expecting?
- How do you feel about working with a doula, if I choose to bring one with me?
- Do you think big babies are a problem?
- What is your definition of a full term or post date pregnancy?
- How would you feel if I refused your recommendations?
It’s a great idea to research ALL of those things before you start interviewing providers. Be very wary of answers like “only if we need to”, or wishy-washy, non committal responses, or other responses that brush you aside. Watch their body language and pay close attention to their responses. You want your care provider to be upfront with you at all times.
If you are seeking a care provider for a VBAC you want to be particularly thorough in your interviewing stage. We recommend that you add a further five questions to the list above.
Bonus Questions for VBAC
- What are the benefits and risks of VBAC vs repeat caesarean
- For what reasons will you suggest a repeat caesarean?
- How many VBACS have you attended in the last year,
- How many repeat caesareans have you performed?
- What is your overall caesarean rate?
Be sure to thoroughly interview potential care providers and remember, if you don’t feel comfortable asking questions, they aren’t a suitable provider. A genuinely birth friendly provider places you at the helm of all decisions, and wants you to have as much information as possible. A poor provider wants to be in charge of your birth, and will limit the information they provide, to information that curbs your decisional capacity, sometimes even stating openly that they will overrule you if they see fit.
Remember that you can not make a fully informed decision without interviewing many different providers with different qualifications, providers who provide different services, a birth centre, and a hospital Choosing anything without researching thoroughly isn’t really choosing anything at all!