Choosing the Right Birth Attendant – The Investigation

Picking the right prenatal care provider/birth attendant is one of the most important decisions you will make during your pregnancy. While the process does not have to take a lot of time it is important that you give some focused energy to your choice since the person you choose has the power to affect your entire experience.

Once you have an understanding of the type of birthing experience you desire, it’s time to move into The Investigation Phase of choosing your provider. The goal of The Investigation Phase is to create a list of providers that you believe may fit your needs and desires. There are four basic steps to the investigation. Each step will bring additional information.

Step 1 Ask your friends, family and coworkers what providers they used. Ask what providers they recommend, which they don’t recommend. Be sure to ask WHY? While their choice of provider may not be your choice what they tell you can give you good baseline information.

Step 2

Visit the websites of the hospital, birth center, or OB/GYN offices in your area. This will provide good baseline information. While you can’t make a decision about choosing someone simply from an internet profile you may be able to eliminate someone from the search. As an example: If you are absolutely adamant about having a female provider you can eliminate some providers once your internet search reveals their gender. Perhaps you are absolutely sure you want to birth with a Midwife. If the practice you investigate does not have any midwives, you can eliminate them as well. If you are planning a hospital birth and there is more than one hospital in your area find out how you can get a tour of the maternity area including the nursery and post partum units.

Steps one and two are the basic investigation. Its possible you will eliminate a few providers with those two steps. Moving forward, you want to intensify your investigation and obtain more specific information about your remaining options.

Step 3

Make more use of the internet. First do a basic internet search. You may be surprised at the amount of information, personal and professional, you can find through a simple internet search. Then make a visit to The Birth Survey a national non-profit organization with a goal to create more transparency in maternity care. Women from all over the country can visit the website and provide insight, feedback and opinions about a provider they recently used for a delivery. Check out the site and see if the providers you are considering have been mentioned.

Step 4

If you are planning a hospital birth, call the hospital and talk to the staff about the providers. Call more than once and at a different time of day since a different person may provide different information. (Saturday and Sunday afternoons/evenings are often good times.) A great question to ask the staff is: “If you or a family member were pregnant, what provider would you use?” If it is possible, speak with different levels of staff on the unit. They see the providers differently and often have varying opinions. If it would make you feel more comfortable don’t hesitate to call anonymously.

Remember, at this stage of the game, you are simply investigating and gathering information. You are NOT making any final decisions. At the end of the investigation phase, you should have a list of providers that you will interview to determine which provider is right for you. Also remember, during this process you should make an appointment with someone and start your prenatal care. You can always change providers later.

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