5 Things to Ask Before Choosing Your OBGYN

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Navigating the world of pregnancy and delivery expectations will most certainly result in hundreds of questions. One of the most important decisions you will make is choosing the best OB for you. As you weigh the pros and cons, keep in mind that this is a critically important step to establishing your peace of mind. Unfortunately, many doctors see pregnant women as numbers, not individuals. That is why women must advocate for themselves and choose an OB with whom they feel comfortable. I suggest interviewing several to find the right fit. Here are five questions I recommend asking before committing to a doctor.

  1. Will you be the one delivering my baby? Often, the obstetrician you’re working with may not be the one to deliver your child because many hospital obstetricians work on rotation/ in delivery rooms (called “doc on deck”). Asking this question allows you to understand who will be there during your delivery. After investing time in finding an OB who fits your needs, you want to make sure that physician will be at the delivery*. If you like your OB and he or she can’t guarantee being with you during delivery, consider asking to meet some of the other obstetricians who might be there so you will at least recognize familiar faces.
  2. Will I be allowed to have my support team in the birthing room with me? If you want your partner and/or a doula in the birthing room with you, this is a crucial question to ask your doctor, mainly because we continue to ride the waves of COVID-19. As we navigate the pandemic, the rules are constantly changing, so ask now and ask again as birth gets closer.
  3. What is your C-section rate? If you opt for hospital delivery, choose a hospital and an obstetrician with a low C-section rate. C-sections are the most common surgery in the US, and cost nearly twice as much as vaginal deliveries. Consumer Reports collects information about the rate of C-sections at various hospitals, which vary considerably. Be sure to ask your prospective OB about their personal rate, their practice rate, and the hospital rate.
  4. Have you had any maternal deaths? Ask your doctor about their maternal mortality rates. Also, ask how many Caesarean-hysterectomies (C-hysters) they have performed to stop post-partum hemorrhage. There are a number of ways to control post-partum hemorrhage. In my practice and my consulting with other OBs, I performed over 1000 C-sections but I never had to do a C-hyster. Note: If you’re working with a midwife, ask them about their maternal mortality rate. Be aware that sometimes midwives send patients to the hospital because of complications. You should ask your midwife if he or she has a working relationship with an OB at the hospital you would be going to if needed. If your midwife makes the decision for you to go to the hospital, you do not want to show up in the ER with the OB on call who may or may not like working with midwives.
  5. What will happen if I test positive for COVID-19 when I deliver? Make a plan with your doctor to have one less thing to stress about if this occurs. As much as you don’t want your baby whisked away after birth, the plan to protect and test your new baby for the illness will include isolating you from her/him initially after birth.

The only thing more important than your baby’s health and well-being upon entering the world is your health and comfort in getting him/her here safely. As you interview OBs, pay attention to whether you feel listened to or not. Did the doctor’s views on pregnancy and childbirth align with yours? Did you feel comfortable speaking with them, and are they someone you can trust? There are a lot of unknowns as you go through pregnancy and delivery. While it may feel intimidating or scary to think about, it’s best to consider the tough questions early on, so by the time of your delivery you have some confidence that your OB is on the same page as you, and you can focus on what’s most important: your new baby. *For an in-depth perspective on just how important it is to choose your doctor, meet Sandy Powell, mother of quadruplets. We met in the fall of 1997, and I delivered her four children just a few months later.