Why is choosing a care provider one of the most important decisions you will make in your pregnancy?

A woman’s choice of care provider for pregnancy and birth is one of the most important decisions she will make. This decision has the most important influence on how her birth will go and how she will experience her care.

Some things to consider when deciding on a care provider are:

  • What sort of relationship would you like to have with your care provider? Are you merely looking for physical check ups in pregnancy and someone to turn up for the last few minutes of the birth? Are you wanting to be cared for by strangers who do not know you or your wishes for birth / would you like to feel nurtured? Would you like to know the person who will assist you in birth?
  • How much information do you expect to receive? Are you happy with “It’s normal” in response to your questions, or do you need more information and a better understanding of your situation and progress and health?
  • Do you wish to be actively involved in the decisions made about your care or are you happy to leave all decision-making up to others?

It may take some time and energy to find the right care provider for your pregnancy and birth. It is very helpful to interview several midwives and obstetricians before deciding on the one that is right for you.

What about place of birth?

There are three options for place of birth: home, birth centre and hospital. Midwifery care is available at all three locations. Obstetricians generally work only in hospitals, however a few will attend birth centre births. Knowing where you would like to birth your baby can help you in choosing a care provider.

What should I look out for when I am interviewing care providers?

One of the most important issues to consider really doesn’t need much consideration at all. How do you feel about your care provider at the end of the initial consultation? It’s a gut feel. You can trust your gut.

You will want to ask your care provider about his/her practices to ensure that their practices are consistent with what you’re wanting for your pregnancy and birth. If waterbirth is important to you, you need to find a place of birth and care provider who can provide this. It’s best to find this out at the initial consultation stage rather than at 38 weeks.

You will also want to explore your care provider’s philosophy on pregnancy and birth to ensure that there is a match with your own.

Are there any poor reasons for choosing a care provider?

Yes! And I hear them very often. It is not wise to choose a care provider because:

  • They are close to your home / office
  • Your mother used them
  • You feel you don’t have any other choices (there are always choices; it’s not a question of resources, it’s a question of resourcefulness)
  • They are female / they are male.
  • Your GP recommended them (unless you are sure of the basis for that recommendation and you agree that they are right for you)
  • They are cheap
  • They do an ultrasound at every visit
  • They delivered you
  • It would offend Aunt Bessie if you didn’t go to Dr X
  • Although you don’t like the person, you’re sure they’ll be fine on the day (your gut is always right)

Melissa Maimann is an eligible midwife in private practice in Sydney.  One of the first eligible midwives in Australia, Melissa offers a range of care options for women.  Visit Melissa's website to learn more about her services.