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Eyes Wide Open: How To Tell If Your Care Provider Truly Supports Your Plan

By Jessica Austin

Your doula and prenatal instructor might have suggested you prepare a list of priorities and preferences to discuss with your birth-care provider so the two of you can see if you have similar ideas about the care you can expect during your birth. You’ve looked into your options, you know the approach you want your care providers to take, and you’ve discussed it with them. But let’s discover if you and your support team are truly on the same page.

Review your original birth vision step by step, asking yourself the following questions:

  1. Which of your original preferences did your care provider agree were reasonable?

  2. How did your care provider assure you that the requests he or she agreed to would be supported during the birth? How often have they supported clients with these preferences in the past? How many of their clients ultimately have these preferences met?

  3. If you are having a hospital birth with a doctor, did your doctor explain that it is not only her support of your preferences that matters, but also the support you are likely to receive from the nursing staff? In this type of birth, your doctor will likely only be present intermittently, and a nurse will be monitoring you in between. How did your doctor assure you that the nursing staff will be supportive of your preferences?

  4. Similarly, doctors and registered midwives very frequently work in teams that share on-call schedules. How has your care provider assured you that the other members of the on-call team will be as supportive of your preferences as she is? If you have a solo-practice registered midwife or a traditional birth attendant, what is their backup plan in case of emergency or birth overlap?

  5. Which of your original preferences did your care provider ask you to compromise a bit on? In what ways have you compromised your original preferences?

  6. Which of your original preferences did your care provider ask you to let go of altogether? Was there anything your care provider was completely unsupportive of?

  7. What new information did your care provider give you that made you feel it was in your best interest to change your mind about these preferences?

  8. Does the new information make sense to you, or do you need further details about your care provider’s recommendation to make you feel comfortable with the changes you’ve made to your original preferences?

  9. Do the changes you’ve made to your original preferences still support the things that were important to you? For example, if your original preference was to be given room to birth in whichever position you like, thereby avoiding lying on your back in order to be gentle on your perineum, did you change your mind because your care provider gave you new information that convinced you that lying on your back would in fact be the better choice? Or did you change your mind for another reason altogether? (Note: This is for example purposes only… birthing on your back is definitely not considered best for your perineum.)

  10. Do the changes you’ve made to your original preferences still support your overall birth philosophy?

  11. Is there anything you would like to discuss further with your care provider?

  12. Is there anything you would like a second opinion about?

Now that you have a better idea of how you and your care provider relate in terms of birth philosophy, are you still feeling like you’ve got a great birth plan and a great birth team? If not, you might want to reconsider your options.