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.

Getting Started

  1. Write down your personal preferences about prenatal care, childbirth and postpartum care:
    • Where would you prefer to have the birth – at home, at a birthing center or hospital?
    • Who would you like to have with you during labor and birth?
    • What cultural or personal preferences do you have regarding childbirth?
    • Does it matter if the care provider is male or female?
  2. Consider your financial and insurance situation. You may want to look at the average costs of prenatal, labor and postpartum services and decide on 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)

    Sources: Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA), American Pregnancy Association.

    WHN TIP:

    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.

    WHN TIP:

    All federal health insurance programs (Medicare and Medicaid) are required to cover nurse-midwifery services.

  3. Ask family and friends for recommendations about providers. Also, ask your physician or other medical professionals for referrals.
  4. Make an appointment to meet with a few different care providers before settling on one.

Questions to Ask

Here is a starter list of questions for you to print out and take with you to your first appointment. Remember to bring a pen and a notebook to jot down notes. Feel free to omit or add questions of your own to the list as needed.

  1. General
    • How many babies do you deliver a week?
    • Do you have vacancies or is there a waiting list for your services?
    • Are you available for my due date?
    • What happens if you are not available at the time of my birth?
    • Will you be able to assist the labor at my chosen birth setting (home, birthing center, hospital)?
  2. Philosophy
    • What is your philosophy regarding childbirth?
    • Why did you choose to become a doula/midwife/physician?
    • Will you be able to accommodate my personal or cultural preferences regarding childbirth?
    • Can my partner, family member or friend be present for the birth?
    • What methods or practices do you normally use during labor?
  3. Services and Costs
    • 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.)
    • What services are/are not provided in the basic rate?
    • What services do you offer for my entire family?
    • Will my insurance cover your service costs? If not, what other resources are available to cover costs?
    • What hospitals or other doctors/nurses/midwives/doulas do you work with?
    • How will you plan to communicate with the other care providers and administration involved?
    • When are you available to be contacted – 24 hours a day? Weekends? Holidays?
    • How often are prenatal appointments?
    • How often will we meet towards the end of the pregnancy?
    • How long does a regular visit last?
    • What happens at a regular visit?
    • Who will I see at each appointment?
    • What is your rate of Cesarean sections? Induced labor?
    • What is your practice with postdates (going overdue)?
    • During labor, when will you arrive at my birth setting?
    • What would happen should a complication arise?
    • How long will you stay after the birth?
    • Do you offer postpartum or newborn care services?
  4. Credentials
    • What training have you had?
    • How long have you been in practice?
    • Are you certified?
    • Are you licensed?
    • May I see proof of your credentials?
    • Do you have any references or referrals?
    • Do you have insurance?

After Your Appointment, Ask Yourself...

  1. Is the care provider knowledgable?
  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 their services? Will my insurance cover the costs of their services?
  8. Do I feel good about my decision?
After you have made your choice, keep track of all your appointments, bills, paperwork, etc. by starting a folder or binder just for your obstetric care, classes and services. Bring a list of questions you may have to each appointment and also bring a pen and paper to jot down notes. Keep copies of receipts, bills and forms.