I’m sure you can tell by now that my upcoming delivery day is weighing heavily on my mind. Especially since I thought it would be last week and it shows zero signs of arriving any day soon. But having this extra time has given me the chance to be a little more clearheaded with what I expect from my birth experience. I get to take my birth plan from no epidural, no MIL to a more well planned one, that will still absolutely include those two items.
And in trying to plan out my birth experience, as much as any birth experience can ever really be planned, I’ve realized that there are some critical questions that women need to be asking their OBs. No one ever really gave me suggestions about what to ask, so there have been times where I’ve either had nothing to ask my OB or I’ve bombarded her with 20 completely random questions.
While arguably there are about a million more questions that you should ask your OB, these 10 questions are relatively important ones to clarify before you go into labor. If you are lucky enough to ever go into labor because some of us will just be pregnant forever it seems.
1. Who is delivering my baby?
You should probably ask this one pretty early on. I knew from day 1 that my OB was very likely not who would be delivering my baby. I belong to a hospital specific insurance plan, so if I wanted the more affordable prenatal/postnatal care plan, I needed to be comfortable with any hospital OB delivering my baby. My husband is a doctor at this hospital and while there won’t be students or interns delivering my baby, I’m okay with the senior residents and attendings who are there each day. My OB is in once a week, so maybe we’ll hit the lottery and be there with her. If your OB delivering your baby is important to you, make sure you have a private OB who will be there day or night for you.
2. Which hospital is better?
Many OBs have privileges at several hospitals, so find out which one he/she prefers. Ask about NICUs and other components of care that are important to you like labor suites, private recovery rooms and the like. If she won’t give you an opinion about which is better, perhaps ask which is closer to her so you can be sure that she’ll make it on time.
3. Do you support a medicated/unmedicated labor?
I think it’s important that your OB know your labor plan in terms of medication and that they are supportive of it. If they believe strongly in an unmedicated labor and you are planning an epidural, at least make it known in advance and likewise, be sure they know if you want an unmedicated labor, especially if you are very passionate about it.
4. How often do you use interventions?
Interventions can include anything from cervadil/pitocin to manually rupturing membranes. Some people feel extremely strongly about these and it’s important to know how your doctor feels. If she’s a big believer in rupturing membranes whenever labor stalls, you need to make sure you’re okay with that or ask if there can be exceptions. Make sure you and your OB agree on which interventions you want under which circumstances.
5. Do you perform episiotomies?
Yes, this is an intervention, but this is one I specifically asked because it’s important to me. My OB doesn’t do them unless there is an emergency where the baby HAS to come out right now and this is the only way that it’s going to happen. I am firmly in the anti-episiotomy camp for my own personal research and reasons that I’ll spare you, so thankfully my OB and I are very much in line on this issue.
6. When will you induce labor?
My OB is a very anti-induction person. She will induce for low fluid (which is the line we’ve been toeing for 2 weeks now), after 41w and for medical situations like high blood pressure, intrauterine growth restrictions and the like. I imagine on Friday we’ll be scheduling my induction because my child seems to have no desire to head out on his own and soon we’ll reach the point where he’s safer out than in. It’s also good to know which medications your OB uses. Some will use cervadil and pitocin, and others will make different decisions based on your cervix at the time of induction.
7. When will you perform a C-section?
It’s important to know when/if your OB will do c-sections. Some will perform them for all suspected large/breech births, others allow natural labor for large babies and attempt external versions to turn breech babies. Find out which camp your OB is in before you reach the day you have to schedule one. And ask at what point she schedules c-sections and if she’ll let you go to 40 weeks before scheduling the surgery to give your baby as much time as possible to mature.
8. How can I get in touch with you?
This question should probably have been #1. My OB’s office is a fortress of nurses and nurse assistants and receptionists. Getting in touch with an actual physician typically requires an emergency or a lot of persistence. I have found that the easiest way to reach my OB is to call early in the day, and if I can’t reach her then, then I need to try again at exactly 1:01 in the afternoon when everyone is freshly back from lunch. It’s not ideal and I absolutely wish I could reach her more easily, but thankfully this has worked well enough so far.
9. Do you recommend a pediatrician?
A great place to find a pediatrician is from your OB. Chances are she’s worked with or near most of the ones in your area and can help you select one that your insurance will cover. She also might be able to tell you who to avoid, because let’s face it, there are some of those doctors everywhere too.
10. When should I head to the hospital?
Every doctor has slightly different rules for hospital visits. Mine was insistent that prior to 36 weeks, I head to L&D with more than 4 contractions an hour. The L&D nurses got very tired of seeing my irritable uterus, but I did as I was told. She also insists that decreased fetal movement always warrants a trip. And now that I’m excessively full term, I am supposed to go in when my contractions are 4-5 minutes apart, last for 1 minute and have been going like this for at least an hour.