4 Steps to Choosing an Obstetric Healthcare Provider

Choosing an obstetric healthcare provider is a big and important decision to make. To help you through your decision process, here is a starter list of things to ask and consider. Feel free to add or omit any part of this list – after all, the decision is up to you.

Knowing What You Want

Consider what type of care you want during your pregnancy and at the birth as well as where you want to deliver.

  • What type of prenatal, labor and postpartum care provider do you prefer: doula, midwife or physician (MD or DO)?
  • Does it matter if the care provider is male or female?
  • Where would you prefer to have the birth – at home, at a birthing center or in a hospital?
  • Who would you like to have with you during labor and birth?
  • What cultural or personal preferences do you have regarding childbirth?

WHN TIP – Referrals: Ask family, friends, your physician or other medical professionals for referrals and recommendations about providers.

Knowing What You Can Afford

Your financial and insurance situation can play an important part in your decision-making process. Look at the average costs of prenatal, labor and postpartum services (these can vary by location) and decide which services will work best for you.

Average Costs

  • Birthing classes: $100-200
  • Doula: $500-1500
  • Midwife: $2000-3500
  • Obstetricians: $3000-5000
  • Delivery at home: $3000-4000
  • Delivery at a birthing center: $3000-4000
  • Delivery at hospital: $6000-8000 (more if it’s a cesarean or high-risk pregnancy)

WHN TIP – Policy Coverage? Ask your health insurance agent about what programs and services are covered under your policy. Insurance companies may or may not cover midwifery or doula services. All federal health insurance programs (Medicare and Medicaid) are required to cover nurse-midwifery services.

Asking The Key Questions

Make an appointment to “interview” a few different care providers before making your decision. Here is a starter list of questions  — feel free to add your own.

WHN TIP – Take Notes: Don’t rely on your memory. Instead, take notes so you can compare the answers after meeting with those on your list.

General

  1. How many babies do you deliver a week?
  2. Do you have vacancies or is there a waiting list for your services?
  3. Are you available for my due date?
  4. What happens if you are not available at the time of my birth?
  5. Will you be able to assist the labor at my chosen birth setting (home, birthing center, hospital)?

Philosophy

  1. What is your philosophy regarding childbirth?
  2. Why did you choose to become a doula/midwife/physician?
  3. Will you be able to accommodate my personal or cultural preferences regarding childbirth?
  4. Can my partner, family member or friend be present for the birth?
  5. What methods or practices do you normally use during labor?

Services and Costs

  1. What services do you provide? (Services might include fertility and reproductive education, prenatal care, medical exams and services, counseling, labor support, postpartum and newborn care, etc.)
  2. What services are/are not provided in the basic rate?
  3. What services do you offer for my entire family?
  4. Will my insurance cover your service costs? If not, what other resources are available to cover costs?
  5. What hospitals or other doctors/nurses/midwives/doulas do you work with?
  6. How will you plan to communicate with the other care providers and administration involved?
  7. When are you available to be contacted – 24 hours a day? Weekends? Holidays?
  8. How often are prenatal appointments?
  9. How often will we meet towards the end of the pregnancy?
  10. How long does a regular visit last?
  11. What happens at a regular visit?
  12. Who will I see at each appointment?
  13. What is your rate of Cesarean sections? Induced labor?
  14. What is your practice with postdates (going overdue)?
  15. During labor, when will you arrive at my birth setting?
  16. What would happen should a complication arise?
  17. How long will you stay after the birth?
  18. Do you offer postpartum or newborn care services?

Credentials

  1. What training have you had?
  2. How long have you been in practice?
  3. Are you certified?
  4. Are you licensed?
  5. May I see proof of your credentials?
  6. Do you have any references or referrals?
  7. Do you have insurance?

Comparing the Responses

  1. Is the care provider knowledgeable?
  2. Does the care provider take the time to explain care, services, procedures and methods?
  3. Does the care provider share similar philosophies regarding childbirth?
  4. Does the care provider make me feel at ease?
  5. Is the care provider’s office in a convenient location (near home or work)?
  6. Is the provider willing to travel to my home or birth setting to provide necessary services (i.e. midwives for home births or postpartum care) or accommodate special requests?
  7. Can I afford the provider? Will my insurance cover the costs of the services?
  8. Do I feel good about my decision?

Creating a Pregnancy File

Now that you’ve chosen your care provider, create a file for your obstetric care, classes and services. Here’s a list of what to track:

  • Dates of all your appointments with notes on what was discussed or took place. (Use our Medical Appointment Tracking Form to make it easier.)
  • Copies of all bills, lab work and other test results.
  • Copies of practice forms and information about the practice.
  • List of questions or concerns to cover at each appointment, with answers attached.

For More Information

Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA) — The Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA) is a professional membership organization that promotes excellence in midwifery practice, endorses diversity in educational backgrounds and practice styles, and is dedicated to unifying and strengthening the profession, thereby increasing access to quality health care and improving outcomes for women, babies, families, and communities.

American Pregnancy Association — The American Pregnancy Association is a national health organization committed to promoting reproductive and pregnancy wellness through education,  support, advocacy, and community awareness.