So you’re pregnant? Congratulations! As a board certified OBGYN who has helped countless women through this unique time in their lives, I can tell you that pregnancy tends to bring two main emotions: excitement and anxiety.
Excitement for all that’s to come—a new baby, a new adventure, and of course, motherhood.
Anxiety for all the unknowns—the body changes, what may go wrong, and concerns about labor and delivery.
Your OBGYN should act as a support person throughout your pregnancy. To guide you. To ease your anxieties. To make this life experience an enjoyable one.
The problem? Too many OBGYN offices act more like a baby delivery factory. Women feel rushed. They see a countless number of OBs and nurses. Questions go unanswered. Personalized care is non-existent.
The entire process leaves many women feeling overwhelmed, neglected, and even unhappy.
Pregnancy shouldn’t feel this way. You aren’t just another number. You deserved holistic, personalized care.
To help you get what you deserve, below are 6 questions every newly pregnant woman should ask their OB:
1. What’s Your Practice Like?
Every OBGYN practice is different. The amount of providers, their scheduling process, even the services provided vary drastically. This is not something most newly pregnant women know, and it can cause disparity (and disappointment) in care. Below is a checklist to use for information to ask your prospective OBGYN practice:
- How many providers are in the practice?
- Who will deliver my baby?
- What is your prenatal schedule like?
- How likely is it that my appointment is canceled?
- Do you offer on-site ultrasounds and laboratory work?
- How do you handle emergency/after-hour calls?
- If I’m high-risk, who is your Maternal-Fetal Medicine partner?
2. Will You Be The One To Deliver My Baby?
Many first time moms are surprised to learn that their OBGYN is rarely the one to deliver their baby. The vast majority of OBGYNs work as a team alongside other providers. Who delivers your baby depends on who is on-call that day.
But that doesn’t mean your experience should lack highly personalized care. You should never feel like just a number during one of the most special times in your life. Which is why it’s essential to understand your options.
A good practice will have you meet all of the OBGYNs during your pregnancy so you aren’t meeting someone new while giving birth. Make sure this is the case for the practice you choose.
And if it’s important for you to have the same OBGYN deliver your baby, it’s certainly possible to find one that does. I do that at my practice. However, it’s hard to come by, so you may have to travel beyond your immediate area.
3. What Are Your Rates For: C-Sections, Inductions, And Episiotomy?
Interventions are often necessary for the health of mother and baby, but unfortunately many OBGYNs intervene too early and often. This is most likely out of fear of a lawsuit.
That’s why it’s important to ask your provider their rate for c-sections, inductions, and episiotomy. Their percentage rate will give you a clear indication about whether or not they over-step too often.
Below are the average rates in the US for C-Sections, Inductions, and Episiotomy. Ideally, your OBGYN’s rates should fall well below them:
4. Are You Flexible Or By The Book?
A lot can happen during pregnancy and delivery. Knowing how flexible your OBGYN is will help avoid unnecessary stress down the road. It’s a good idea to understand what your OB’s stance is on the following:
- Cervical checks: An in-office exam that many women find uncomfortable and even painful. The intent is to figure out if there are any cervical changes indicating delivery is nearing, but many providers (myself included) think it’s outdated and reveals nothing.
- Induction vs. close monitoring: In general, I believe a baby will come when she is ready. Of course, there are times when intervention is necessary to keep mother and baby safe, but in general I’m comfortable with patients going past their due dates up to 42 weeks. Some providers are not, so it’s important to ask so you know what to expect.
- Delayed cord clamping: Delayed cord clamping of 30-60 seconds has a whole host of benefits for your baby—including boosting her blood volume and iron for healthy brain development. Ask your provider ahead of time if they do delayed cord clamping and for how long.
5. Are You Supportive of Alternative and Holistic Care?
Pregnancy and postpartum are both a physical and mental journey for women. Having a supportive team around you is essential to keeping you healthy and feeling yourself again after birth. Unfortunately, this is far too often overlooked by many providers.
A good OBGYN should have a solid list of alternative and holistic care options for their expectant mothers, including:
- Pelvic Floor Therapist
- Post-Partum Therapists
6. What Is Your Post-Partum Schedule?
I’m not going to sugar-coat it. Postpartum care is atrocious in the US. Many providers only have one follow up at 6 weeks with their patients. Giving birth is a major life event. As is adjusting to all the changes motherhood brings.
The vulnerable postpartum time leaves many women feeling depressed and anxious, which is exactly why we need to focus on providing better care.
So what’s a good post-partum schedule? Here’s what I do for my patients:
Vaginal delivery: Every 2 weeks (virtual and in-person combo) until the mother is feeling well
Cesarean delivery: 1 week check-up to check wound and ensure it’s healing then follows same 2 week schedule as Vaginal delivery
Vaginal and Cesarean delivery: 6 week in person check-up
Knowing the right questions to ask early on will help you to feel confident in the provider you choose and avoid unwanted surprises.