Your OB/GYN or midwife is there to be a support for you throughout your pregnancy. Visits should never feel like checking a box — take advantage of the time with your provider to ask any questions you might have, clarify treatment plans, and make sure your questions are answered. You have a right to be involved and informed in decision making about your body and pregnancy. Here’s how to get the most out of your time with your provider.
Choosing a provider
Establishing a positive patient-provider relationship all begins by choosing the right provider for you and your needs. You may also want to add to your care team by finding a doula to be part of your ongoing support system and/or a midwife to take a holistic approach to your pregnancy care. Make sure you feel comfortable communicating openly with your care team. And find out about the visitation policy for your provider’s office so you know if you can take someone to your visits who can help you advocate for yourself.
Ask a lot of questions
Your provider is the healthcare expert, but you are the expert on your body and your needs. Whenever you feel unclear about the next steps or a treatment recommendation, ask clarifying questions until you understand the plan. It can be helpful to keep a note in your phone with any questions that pop up in between appointments.
You might want to ask questions like:
- Can you tell me about your approach to maternity/perinatal care?
- What is the goal we’re trying to reach?
- What are my options?
- Why are you recommending this treatment over alternatives?
- What side effects could I experience?
- What signs and symptoms should I be looking out for?
Stay in the driver’s seat
Towards the beginning of your prenatal care, make it clear to your provider what your goals are for your pregnancy and birth and share your values as they relate to care and expanding your family. You can assess whether your provider’s approach is in alignment with your goals and values. Remember that you can always say no or ask for a second opinion. You don’t need your provider’s permission for a second opinion; you can always visit another clinic or hospital, with or without their involvement. If something feels off or you’re uncomfortable with anything about your treatment plan, focus on getting the answers you need to find a path forward.
If you bring a friend, family member, or doula to your visits, they can help advocate for you and your comfort level. Even if you choose to go alone, think about how you’re going to advocate for yourself — your opinion is the most important one when it comes to your care.
- Nada Youssef. “What is a Midwife and Why Might a Woman Want to See One? with Jessica Costa, CNM.” Health Essentials. Cleveland Clinic. December 12, 2018. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/podcasts/health-essentials/what-is-a-midwife-and-why-might-a-woman-want-to-see-one.
- March of Dimes Position Statement Doulas and Birth Outcomes. March of Dimes. March of Dimes. January 30, 2019. https://www.marchofdimes.org/materials/Doulas%20and%20birth%20outcomes%20position%20statement%20final%20January%2030%20PM.pdf.