Questions for a Physician
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( notes results of best available research)
Background, Education, PhilosophyWhat is your educational background? How long have you been in practice? How many births have you attended? Are you board-certified?
What is your philosophy of pregnancy and birth?
Practice OrganizationWho else is in the practice, and could be providing my prenatal care or attending my birth?
How could I get to know everyone who may attend my birth?
CostWhat are your fees? Are there any possible extra costs — for example for tests or anesthesia services — that I should know about?
Do you accept my health insurance plan? [Note: you should also check with your insurer to confirm coverage.]
Do you accept alternate payment arrangements, such as sliding scale or time payments?
Prenatal CareWhat are your goals for prenatal care?
What schedule of prenatal visits do you recommend, and what would happen during those visits?
How do you define "high-risk"? When would I fall into this category?
Care During Labor and Birth — LocationWhere do you attend births?
Care During Labor and Birth — CompanionsDo you have any policies that limit the number of people who could be with me during labor and birth? Could the baby's siblings be present? Is there an age restriction?
Do you have experience with trained labor support (doulas) during labor and birth? Do you encourage use of doula care?
Care During Labor and Birth — InterventionsHow do you monitor the well-being of the baby during labor? Do you use continuous electronic fetal monitoring? Is a doppler (hand-held ultrasound device used to monitor your baby's heart) or a fetoscope (stethoscope for listening to your baby's heart) an option?
What are your usual policies and practices about:
What is your usual approach to a labor that is progressing slowly?
What percent of the time do you find it necessary to cut an episiotomy (a cut to enlarge the opening of the vagina just before birth)?
Care During Labor and Birth — Help with PainHow would you recommend that I prepare for managing pain during labor and birth?
What drug-free measures for pain relief are available in the setting where you practice?
What would happen if I decided that I want an epidural?
Are other pain medications an option?
Care During Labor and Birth — Complications and/or TransferWhat percentage of your patients have a cesarean section?
If birth setting is not a "Level 3" (most specialized) hospital: What hospital would my baby be taken to, in the case of an unforeseen complication? What is the procedure for transfer?
Postpartum and Newborn careWhat is your approach to newborn care? What are the routine procedures if a baby is healthy?
Does the birth setting where you practice place any limits on the care you would like to give in the newborn period? How do your views about newborn care match with the routines and policies of the setting where you practice?
How could we work together to ensure that breastfeeding gets off to a good start? Do you have special expertise in this area or work in collaboration with lactation consultants?
ReferralsMay I please have the names of some women who have recently received maternity care from you, for reference purposes?
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Childbirth Connection is a national not-for-profit organization founded in 1918 as Maternity Center Association. Our mission is to improve the quality of maternity care through research, education, advocacy and policy. Childbirth Connection promotes safe, effective and satisfying evidence-based maternity care and is a voice for the needs and interests of childbearing families.
Most recent page update: 4/18/2006