Can you guess the #1 most impactful choice that you’ll make about your birth? (hint: it’s not what you’ll wear in labor!)
The provider AND the birth location you choose can have THE #1 most profound effect on your birth.
If your OB or Midwife….
If something feels off, listen to that inner voice – you have it for a reason.
Do not assume you can come in during labor with a list of demands and force the on-call Doctor or Midwife into following your wishes.
Instead, listen at your prenatal appointments.
Find out how they do things.
If they don’t already do things the way you want, perhaps they’re not the right provider for you.
It’s better to find a provider who aligns with you and what you want out of your birth rather than trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
It’s your right to find a provider you truly connect with and trust deeply.
I’ve created a list of questions that you may want to ask your OB or Midwife at your next appointment. You can pick and choose the ones that you want to ask and draw from this list only what you need.
Below you’ll find questions for a private practice obstetrician, a group practice, home birth midwives, hospital providers, and birth center providers.
The hospital birth center used to be called the labor and delivery unit. Many hospitals changed the name sometime in the 1980’s to appeal to patients that desired a more natural birth environment and experience as the out of hospital birth movement was growing rapidly. Hospitals always use the medical model of care and practice risk management, even when midwives are providing the care.
In the US, your hospital birth may be attended by either a CNM, an obstetrician, or a family practice MD. Nurse midwives are only allowed to attend the low risk births. If you become high risk during the labor and birth process, your care will be taken over by the attending OB. Not all hospitals have midwives on staff. If you are curious about having a midwife attend your hospital birth, inquire with your care team.
Is it a teaching hospital?
Teaching hospitals can be good if you have a high-risk pregnancy and need the latest medical technology. If you give birth in a teaching hospital, you will be seen by resident medical students who are overseen by the attending obstetrician and all final decisions are made after the student gets permission to move forward from the attending OB.
One important thing to know about teaching hospitals is that you will have more bodies in the room observing your birth, which you may or may not be comfortable with.
You may be faced with being evaluated by the student, followed by the attending OB, which means that there may be more face to face time with providers, which can interrupt your labor flow. If this does not sound appealing to you, consider asking for limited student contact in your birth preferences.
Are there midwives on staff? If so, how many, and what shifts are covered by them? Some hospitals have midwives, but they only are on day shifts, or limited times throughout the week.
Is the hospital considered a Mother Friendly Hospital or a Baby Friendly Hospital?
If not, what do they offer similarly?
Will the hospital support you having a vaginal breech birth?
Surprise breech happens, sometimes during pushing!
Do people eat and drink during labor at this hospital?
Check to make sure they support eating and drinking during labor, low risk and high risk. You and the baby need energy, and there is definitive evidence that it is harmful to withhold nourishment.
Natalie Broders is a birth photographer, birth filmmaker and birth doula located in Portland, Oregon. She lives on a farm with her husband and 2 kids. They raise chickens and love to garden. Natalie loves babywearing, cloth diapering and is passionate about her work as an advocate for birthing people. She had one of her babies at a birth center and her second baby was born at home, in water.