Questions to Ask Obstetricians and Hospital-Based Midwives

A photo of a male doctor wearing a white coat, wearing a stethoscope at a desk writing something on paperBy Carol Gray, LMT, CST, RPYT, ERYT-200

We get lots of questions about pregnancy birth and postpartum care providers and hospitals. Our prenatal yoga students have so many choices to make – especially during the pandemic. In some hospitals laboring people can have only one support person. In others, they may have more than one. Some people are considering virtual doulas. In other situations they can be accompanied by an in-person doula. In  some hospitals parents and babies are separated if the laboring parent tests positive for COVID-19. Others, not. Choices that may have been available a year ago may not be available now. Likewise, in communities where there are several providers and hospitals, the options vary from practice to practice and from hospital to hospital.

The following is a list of questions to ask obstetricians and hospital-based midwives when making care choice decisions. Next week we will publish a list of questions to ask home birth midwives.

General Questions

How long have you been in practice?
How many births have you attended?
Why did you choose obstetrics/midwifery as a career?
Do you have children?
How and where were they born?
What do you do to ensure that you provide culturally competent care?

Practice Structure Questions

At which hospitals do you practice?
Will you personally attend my birth?
What is your schedule of care?
Are you available by phone or e-mail?
How many midwives/doctors are in your practice?
May I make appointments to meet the other midwives/doctors in your practice?
May I come to you for prenatal visits while planning to have a home birth attended by someone else?

Money Questions

How much do your services cost?
How much is the hospital fee?
What insurance do you take?

Prenatal Care Questions

Which laboratory tests and procedures are routine in your practice?
May I decline laboratory tests?
What is your protocol for a post dates pregnancy?
How many weeks is considered postdates in your practice?
How much time do you allow for a prenatal visit?
How long do prenatal visits actually take in your practice?
How will you address my emotional concerns?
How do you determine the position of my baby?
Do you do external versions? If so, what is your success rate?

Birth Care Questions

What is your cesarean rate?
What is your episiotomy rate?
What is your epidural rate?
What is your induction rate?
What is your vacuum extraction rate?
How many of your patients have unmedicated births?
What percentage of your patients who attempt VBACS are successful?
What percentage of your patients require pitocin for labor augmentation?
Will I be allowed to have the companions of my choice present at my birth?
How do you feel about doulas?
What is your experience with doulas?
Will I have freedom to move around/walk during labor?
Will I have an IV during labor?
May I labor in water?
May I give birth in water?
Will I be allowed to eat and drink in labor?
Will I be allowed to give birth in the position of my choice?
Were you trained to use forceps?
Do you ever use forceps?
Will I have continuous electronic fetal monitoring?
Do you attend vaginal breech births?
Do you ever deliver twins vaginally?
How soon after the birth do you cut the cord?
Will I be able to keep my baby’s placenta?
Will my baby ever have to go to the nursery?
Will I get to hold my baby right away?
Will the baby get antibiotic eye ointment, Vitamin K, Hepatitis B vaccine after the birth? What if I don’t want those things?

Hospital Questions

Who may accompany me in labor?
Do those hospitals where you practice have lactation consultants on duty seven days a week?
What are the cesarean rates at the hospitals where you practice?
What are the tub/shower facilities like in the hospital where you practice?
Will my baby be separated from me after the birth?
Do you practice at a hospital that has a NICU?
Do you practice at a hospital that has the Baby-Friendly designation?
Do you practice at a teaching hospital?
Will students, interns or residents be involved in my care? May I decline their participation?

Postpartum Care Questions

If all is going well, how often will you see me after the birth?
Where do I go for postpartum visits?
Will you help me with breastfeeding?

I hope these questions are helpful. I look forward to practicing prenatal yoga with you!

About Carol Gray

Carol Gray, MamaSpace Yoga Founder and OwnerCarol is the founder and owner of MamaSpace Yoga. She has been a therapeutic bodyworker in private practice for over 30 years. She specializes in Craniosacral Therapy for pregnant and postpartum people and infants. Carol has spent years developing hands-on techniques to enhance the mobility in pregnant bodies including the bony pelvis, the abdominal organs, the support structures and lower segment of the uterus. She is  proud to have pioneered the integration of this gentle manual therapy into prenatal care, the birth place and postpartum care for birthing parents and babies. The goal is to give babies more room to develop, grow and get born. Her specially-designed yoga classes have grown naturally from the roots of bodywork and yoga.

Carol has dedicated her professional life to supporting expectant and new families by promoting gentle aware birth. She has attended births for over 35 years – at first as a doula and from 2000 to 2012 as a midwife. She has since retired from attending births in order to focus on practicing and teaching CST and prenatal yoga. Her many years as a birth worker have forever changed her and her worldview. Those experiences remain an integral part of who she is as a therapist and teacher.

Carol is the founder and director of the The Carol Gray Center for CST Studies®. She teaches high-quality, small group classes that are appropriate for bodyworkers, birth attendants and other health professionals. She is approved by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) as a continuing education approved provider.