One of my least favorite things about getting pregnant is having to find a good OB-GYN. You’d be surprised, but it can be hard to find a doctor to care for you and your baby-to-be. While I could probably tolerate a less-than-cordial podiatrist or dentist, when it comes to an OB, I needed someone with wonderful bedside manner. I'd be seeing this person often, after all. They’d be helping me with an experience that is incredibly intimate. So, rest assured, you’re going to have a lot of important conversations with your OB-GYN, which is why you want to be extremely comfortable with your doctor from the very beginning.
I’ve had more important and serious conversations with my former OB-GYNs than I care to count. I’ve had to discuss difficult topics like threatened abortions (which is when you bleed during a pregnancy but don’t miscarry), worrisome test results, ectopic pregnancy, premature labor, pregnancy after loss, and more, all with my doctors. Some knew how to handle the conversations, while others upset me so horrifically I literally had to walk out the door.
Every mom-to-be has different questions or causes for concern. For example, those who go through IVF will have a different experience than moms who got pregnant on the first try, and a mother experiencing a high-risk pregnancy will have different questions than a mother with a "normal" experience. The questions I’ve listed below, though, are fairly basic for the majority of pregnant persons.
An Informal "Getting To Know You" Chat
Good bedside manner is never more important than when looking for an OB-GYN. You need to be sure you are fully comfortable with and respected by your doctor. If the doctor is cold, or pushy, or won’t listen to you, they are not right for you. You want the potentially first person to hold your baby to be a kind and awesome human, right?
Question Your Doctor's Background
Feel free to ask your doctor where they went to school and where they’ve practiced. Whatever might put you more at ease. If you happen to be high-risk in any way, ask if they’ve ever handled a case like yours. It’s usually best to try and find a doctor knowledgeable about the kinds of challenges you’ve experienced.
Determine What Hospitals Your OB-GYN Has Privileges At
Sometimes we find a great doctor, but they only have privileges at a hospital that’s farther away than we’d like. Or perhaps they have privileges at a hospital you would prefer not to give birth at. Ask ahead of time so you don’t have any unpleasant surprises later.
Talk About All The Exams And Screenings You’ll Be Receiving, And When
You’re going to want to know about all the different tests you’ll be given throughout the course of your pregnancy. There’s blood work, the glucose test, plus screenings like amniocentesis which are optional. If you're going through a high-risk pregnancy, there might be additional screenings you’ll want to find out about ahead of time.
Find Out If They Are Pro-Choice
Some parents-to-be end up receiving negative news from genetic screenings. When this happens, some choose to terminate their pregnancy early on, especially when it appears that the fetus will either die shortly after birth (if they make it that far) and/or their brief life will be extremely painful. You’ll want to be sure your doctor has the same views, or is respectful of them, in the event you have to make this difficult decision someday.
Ask About Restrictions, Including Dietary And Physical
Some moms-to-be need to worry about more restrictions during pregnancy than others. If you’re in genuinely good health and you already work out, you are likely OK to continue doing as you normally would and when you're not growing another human being inside your body. However, if you have diabetes or are on the verge of developing gestational diabetes, your doctor might have some eating restrictions for you. Some pregnant persons are also put on bed rest or pelvic rest, depending on their condition.
Discuss Their Schedule
Many pregnant women develop a good relationship with their OB-GYN and are most comfortable with the thought that their doctor will be there to deliver her baby. That said, sometimes babies come at a different time than expected, or a doctor has an emergency or other plans that won’t allow them to be there. Find out what the likelihood is that your OB will be available, then inquire about their back-up doctors. You can always set up a time to meet them as well so you aren’t stuck with a complete stranger delivering your baby.
Chat About Your Mental Health
OB-GYNs have a bad tendency of overlooking a pregnant person’s mental health, yet so many women are suffering in silence with prenatal depression and anxiety or other illnesses. You want to bring up mental health issues with your doctor, and make sure to ask for a referral to a counselor or therapist to manage your stress levels, emotions, and whatever else might be affecting you. You’ll also want to bring up postpartum depression and anxiety, and ask how they can help you if you are afflicted.
Inquire About Their Induction, Episiotomy, And C-Section Rates
If you’re hoping for as few interventions as possible, you might consider asking your doctor what their c-section, induction, and episiotomy rates are. While there’s no way to guarantee you won’t need one of these interventions yourself, there’s a good chance the odds will be in your favor if you choose a doctor with lower rates.
Inquire About How They Handle Pregnancy And Infant Loss
Pregnancy and infant loss happens much more often than many people realize. If it does happen, you want to be sure you’re with a doctor who has incredible bedside manner. If they seem to just shrug it off as something that “happens,” or don’t appear to have any compassion to even the idea, you might want to find someone else.
Ask Your OB How They Feel About Honoring And Advocating For Patient Birth Plans
This conversation is one that everyone must have prior to giving birth. Your birth plan is essentially a list of everything you’re OK with, everything you want, and everything you want to avoid during labor and delivery. When discussing the idea of a birth plan, you want to find a doctor who is willing to work hard to respect your choices, even if they aren't 100 percent in-line with the hospital’s policies. I've learned there is often wiggle room, and a good OB-GYN will be willing to work with you when it comes to achieving your ideal birth experience. This is the conversation that will include what you’ll use for pain management, and you'll probably end up discussing the amount of monitoring you’re comfortable with, when you should arrive at the hospital, whether you’ll be allowed to eat or drink anything, potential laboring positions, and all that fun stuff.
The firs step is talking, and that step is one in many that will lead to the birth of your precious baby.