Choosing a health professional to provide maternity care.
Once you have found out you are pregnant, one thing to do is to decide who you would like to support you during pregnancy, provide your maternity care and where you would like to give birth.
There are lots of resources about pregnancy and what to ask your health professional, however there are very few about deciding how to choose your health professional and how to establish a partnership relationship with your chosen health professional. We hope this article helps.
How do you select a health professional to care for you during pregnancy? Whether you choose a midwife, general practitioner or obstetrician will depend on a number of factors and your personal preference. Talk to other women about what worked well for them. Look to the internet to learn of services available.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What do I want from my maternity care?
- What type of professional would I feel most comfortable with?
- Do I want public or private maternity care?
- What kind of setting do I want for my delivery?
- How important to me is a more individual, less routine approach?
- Do I have a serious chronic health condition? If so, it is helpful to discuss your pregnancy with your treating health professional.
Your first appointment is an ideal time to have a discussion with your preferred health professional. The discussion will help you establish a relationship, to find out their care philosophy and their maternity care outcomes. Please trust your gut instincts. It is essential that you develop a strong partnership and good communication with your health professional to support your confidence during this very special time. Gauge your care provider’s attitude to your questions as well as their responses. Observe for an open, caring and informative manner as opposed to an indifferent or uncaring attitude. Look for a willingness to listen and to take heed of your concerns and questions, rather than an attitude of professional arrogance, not listening or an unresponsiveness to your questions and a lack of respect of you or your time.
Below is a range questions you might ask health professionals to ensure you are getting the service you want and to help you decide if you can work together. You will not need to ask the health professional every question – choose those that will help inform you and fit with your values. What is important is that they can be answered by the health professional. If they cannot be answered this is cause for concern
Questions to ask your Midwife, General Practitioner or Obstetrician
1.1 Skills and availability
- What type of training have you had?
- How many clients do you see a month?
- Do you work alone or in a partnership with another health professional?
- How do I get in contact with you if I need advice at any time?
- Are you planning any holidays that might affect the support you will provide to me?
- What happens if you are unavailable at the time of birth?
- What are your fees? How and when must the fee be paid? Are there Medicare or health fund rebates?
1.2 Professional Practice
- What is your view of pregnancy and birth?
- Do you believe birth is a natural process?
- How do you support a birthing woman?
- What are my options for birthing?
- What percentage of your clients have an uncomplicated vaginal birth?
- What is your episiotomy rate and in what situations would you perform one?
- What percentage of your clients have post birth complications?
- What percentage of your clients are breastfeeding at 6 weeks?
Extra questions to ask an Obstetrician
- When do you think induction of labour should be considered?
- What is your induction rate?
- In what situations will you recommend a caesarean section?
- What is your caesarean section rate?
- How do you feel about mothers being separated from their babies after a caesarean section?
1.3 Maternity Care
- Do you provide continuity of care during pregnancy – antenatal, birth and postnatal?
- What tests do you recommend during pregnancy and how often?
- Throughout my pregnancy, what intervention do you use? For example: do you use ultrasounds, use antibiotics or perform vaginal examinations?
- How do you support women after birth – to establish breastfeeding and to find their footing as a new mother?
1.4 Working in Partnership
The Australian Commission for Quality and Safety in Healthcare states there is good evidence that partnership approaches in health care can lead to improvements in safety, quality, cost effectiveness and higher consumer/client/patient satisfaction. Essentially, partnership exists when consumers are treated with dignity and respect, information is shared with the consumer, where collaboration in healthcare is encouraged and supported to the extent that consumers can safely choose the best and safest care options.
- How do you envisage us working together in partnership towards a safe pregnancy and birth?
- How much choice will I have in my care preferences during the pregnancy and birth?
- How do you feel about other support people being present at the birth?
- Will there be other health providers working with me during my pregnancy and birth?
- How do you work with me to help me cope physically, mentally and emotionally with the pregnancy and impending parenthood?
- How will you support me to make informed decisions regarding my care?
- What do you expect from me as part of this partnership?