Updated: May 25, 2021
Most pregnant people plan on having a provider monitor their pregnancy, birth and postpartum to ensure the birthing person and baby’s wellness. This could be a physician or a midwife, and depending on the provider, you can expect to meet with one person throughout the entire experience or a group of people. Your provider will be the person (or people) who you go to throughout your pregnancy, birth and postpartum whenever you have questions about what’s going on with you and your baby (or babies!) and when you give birth, they will be there to help you do so as safely as possible.
Providers can play a huge role in your birth story which can be a very good thing, or potentially problematic. So how do you pick the right provider? It’s a very personal decision, that I’m not sure has a completely “right” answer, but here are some things you might consider:
First things first, if you have insurance, you’ll want to check that a provider you’re considering is covered. Call your insurance provider or go online to find a list of covered physicians and/or midwives in your area. This information can change though, so you’ll also want to call the provider directly to ask if they accept your insurance. If you are able to pay for a provider that you absolutely love out of pocket, you could do that as well. That might be the case if you’re thinking about working with a midwife, but some insurances do cover midwives, so it doesn’t hurt to check!
2. Street Cred
So you found some providers that your insurance covers. Nice. Next, what you’ll want to do is stalk the s*** out of them. Ask friends, family, your doula, and the parenting Facebook group/forum you’re part of what people’s experiences have been with this person/group. You can also use websites like healthgrades.com, or Google reviews to see if this is the kind of person you want to attend your birth. While you’re at it, see if they have any sort of social media presence. Do they seem like a pleasant person to be around? Do they share helpful pregnancy-related tips or encouragement on their Instagram? You can go as deep into the research as you want, but at least check them out a little bit.
What qualifications, endorsements or specialties do they have? What are their cesarean, episiotomy, and induction rates? What experience do they have with unmedicated births, or what medications do they offer for pain relief? What are their thoughts on delayed cord clamping, doulas, standard tests/procedures, etc.? All of these factors will come into play if you end up deciding to work with them. It’s better to know where they stand early on than find out at 37 weeks that you have vastly different philosophies about birth. (However, if that happens it’s well within your rights to find a new provider. But that’s another post for another day.)
4. Do you get along?
Do you like their bedside manner? Do you feel respected and listened to? Do you like the sound of their voice (seriously!)? Birth can be stressful. If at all possible, you’ll want to be able to feel comfortable communicating your needs to your provider without worrying about if you're going to be taken seriously.
This whole vetting and decision process is not a straight line leading to the one correct answer, but using some of these suggestions can be a good place to start. The good news is, many physicians and midwives are absolutely fabulous. It's just a matter of finding the most fabulous provider for you!
If you have/had a wonderful provider, how did you find them? Let me know in the comments!