The Why and How of Choosing a Care Provider to Support Your Birth
Choosing a care provider who supports your birth plan is the #1 way to have a well-supported and positive birth experience. Finding the care provider who is right for your family is a critical piece of birth planning. However, this can become difficult if you are unsure of your options and providers in your area.
Oftentimes, I hear of families going through pregnancy and suddenly find out that their provider doesn’t support their wishes in birth. Sometimes birthing families feel they are too far along in their pregnancy to switch their provider. Also, this can be a confusing insurance issue with many financial questions.
Clearly, you want to find a provider who supports your wishes for your birth and your baby. But how can you choose a provider when you don’t know what you want? Developing your birth principles and creating a birth plan are some steps you can take to determine your choices and discuss your wishes with a provider.
5 Steps to Choosing a Care Provider
- Decide what model of care resonates with you. Do you believe that birth is a medical event or a natural event (or somewhere in between)? Do you want the managed care of an OB or the community care of a midwife? Which model makes you feel safest and happiest? There is no right answer here, just the answer that is right for you. Consider your own medical needs as well as what makes you feel most comfortable. Research both models of care before making a decision.
- Ask for recommendations. Ask other moms in your community who they used for their care and ask what they enjoyed about their experience. Find other families who have birthed similar to your birth plan and ask them about their experience. Facebook groups are great for this, as well as local mom and parenting meet up groups.
- Call your insurance company and see which providers they cover and how their care fits into your plan. Take a few of the providers you learned about in step 2 and find out if they are covered by your insurance plan.
- Choose three providers and set up a consultation/interview. Three seems like a lot, but you want to have a few options to help you find someone you trust. The goal is to find a provider that you trust, feel comfortable with, and supports your goals in care for your pregnancy and birth. Your local providers should always offer an initial consultation appointment.
- Write a list of questions and ask them at each consultation. Write out your principles for birth and bring your birth plan if you’ve already created one. Choose the provider that you feel will best support your wishes for your family.
Use Your Power as a Consumer
Don’t be afraid to choose another care provider. You can choose another care provider at any point in your pregnancy, but if you wait until very late in your pregnancy, your options are limited. Many providers won’t accept patients very late in pregnancy. It is CRUCIAL that you start thinking about your birth before your third trimester. You want to find the best care provider as early as possible. But don’t be afraid to “fire your doctor” and make a different choice.
YOU have the power. It’s YOUR birth. And frankly, YOU are paying for it. Use your power as a consumer and choose a different provider if you don’t like your care. Do the planning and research as early as you can so you have time to make the best decision.
Birthful has a fantastic podcast on how to create birth principles. You can use these principles to have meaningful discussions with your provider, and you can decide if a provider aligns with your principles.
I offer my birth doula support clients extensive resources for birth planning and developing their birth principles through our prenatal meetings. Check out this simple birth plan starter to get ideas.