When I was pregnant with my first baby, one of my closest friends was pregnant with her first baby as well. Back then I did not know that hospital midwives existed and so I asked her if she liked her OB and would recommend him to me. She said: "he is ok - definitely competent and knows what he's doing, maybe he's not the most talkative -- but he has great office hours that start before we have to be at work."
Back then I was working full time for a graphics developer and my boss was kind of a jerk. I knew that it wouldn't fly if I took an hour (plus travel) off every month for a prenatal visit.
So what did I do?
I made the mistake of I prioritizing my boss's preferences over my own needs.
Compromising on my own needs is something I learned later on down the road never to do. I did not realize it back then - that in addition to wanting a medical provider who was competent, skilled, educated and esteemed in the birth world, I also really wanted and needed a provider who would be compassionate. Someone who would make the time to sit and listen to my concerns, fears, and help me address and dispel them. Someone who would take the time out of their busy schedule to answer every question I had prepared over the last few weeks since I had seen them last.
I realized, I wanted to play a role in my pregnancies and births.
I did not only want to be the pregnant woman who's baby this person had to deliver safely.
I wanted to be an active part of the team.
The team that would help me birth my baby into this world.
I did not realize back then, that not every single medical provider is capable of including a woman as an active part of the birth team.
The OB I chose to hire for my first birth did not include me as an active part of my own birth team, and that is why I am writing this blog post. To include as much information as possible in what to ask an OBGYN or Midwife before you hire them, so that families can make their own informed decisions and have the best birthing experiences possible.
We all know that sometimes birth takes an unexpected turn. But how you remember your birth (whether you remember being supported and positively encouraged by your provider or not) -- that is one thing we can control by choosing the right provider we hire.
I cannot tell you how many women tell me that their doctor dismisses their concerns and fears, and tells them that we'll cross that bridge when we get to that point. That they'll answer their questions when they get closer to the birth. Doctors who are rushed during every prenatal visit. Mothers who wonder if this is normal or if they should be worried.
Mothers who wonder if anyone ever changes their OBGYN during pregnancy? Would that make their doctor mad? What if no one else is available and they've left their doctors practice? What if the grass only seems greener on the other side of the fence and they regret their decision to leave their doctor? They've already paid all their fees, what do they do now?
If you don't know that something exists, (like episiotomies or perineum massage), then how can you make an informed decision about whether this is something of importance on the day you birth or not?