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Mistakes Made When Interviewing Obstetricians and Midwives

And how to avoid them...


Updated June 25, 2014

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Interviewing a doctor or a midwife to help you when you give birth is one of the most important interviews that you will ever have. During this relatively brief period of time you need to have a lot of questions answered and yet have a sense of your ability to trust this person in important and fast paced matters. That said there are many mistakes that can be made in the interview process that can alter whether or not you have the information you need. Here are some of the most common mistakes that are made by families when picking a practitioner.

  • Not interviewing practitioners at all.
    Some people choose not to interview practitioners for their birth. They erroneously assume that the gynecologist that they have used for years will be the perfect obstetrician. Or perhaps they choose the first person on their insurance list or the person that their neighbor used. This is not a way to find a practitioner that is a good fit for you, even if they are on your insurance policy.

  • Asking questions that don’t get you the answers for which you are trying to get.
    This basically means that you are attempting to get an answer, let’s say it’s the practice’s cesarean rate and you want to know how often cesareans are performed. So if you ask how often do you do cesareans? The answer can be given as” only when necessary” which doesn’t tell you if they believe it to be necessary 10% or 40% of the time or the answer can be given in a certain percentage. If you want the percentage word your question as such: “Can you tell me what percentage of first time mothers have cesareans in your practice?” This gives you a more accurate picture of what’s going on in the practice or with the practitioner.

  • Not writing down the answers.
    When you’re sitting there listening you’ve got it all in your head and you know you’ll remember the answers. Sometimes you might remember some, but it’s always better to jot down a note to help refresh your memory later. Taking someone with you can also be helpful. It’s good to hear what someone else interprets the information given as being. It also helps you keep different practices and practitioners straight.

  • Not getting to the important topics.
    There are so many important topics to discuss when choosing someone to provide your prenatal and birth care. While lists of potential questions are good places to start, only you and your family can decide which questions are the most important to you. In general, I’d recommend starting with the questions that you consider to be the make it or break it questions. These will be different for everyone. Why waste your time and the time of the practitioner if you won’t stay if they don’t give the answer you’re needing? Examples might be:

    • Do you take our insurance?
    • Do you practice at the hospital or birth center we want?
    • Do we have similar philosophies as to your role in our birth?
    • Do you encourage/allow VBACs?

  • Asking only details about the practitioner.
    Many practitioners, obstetricians and midwives, work in larger groups. This means that if you ask one practitioner what their information is, you may not get a clear picture. The same is true if you’re given answers that are practiced based.

    It is an incorrect assumption that all practitioners in one practice operate alike. You can have groups of practitioners who have very different philosophies working together. Some groups do this more effectively than others.

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