Making Your Healthcare Provider a Partner in Your Childbirth

Your healthcare provider, whether he or she is an obstetrician/gynecologist or midwife, is going to be right by your side for the next nine months. It’s important that you feel comfortable asking questions and talking with him or her.

To have a great partnership, ask your healthcare provider if he or she can be the following:

  • Open to questions

  • Easy to reach in an emergency

  • Respectful of your wishes for pregnancy and delivery

You should be clear about your wants and concerns. You must also be honest about any troublesome health habits you have. These may include smoking. You should also be considerate of your healthcare provider's time.

Keep up with checkups

You’ll see your healthcare provider more often as your pregnancy goes on. In most cases, prenatal visits follow this schedule:

  • Once a month for the first six months

  • Once every two weeks for months seven and eight

  • Once each week in the ninth month up until birth

Your schedule may look different. This will depend on your healthcare provider and your health needs.

Make the most of your appointments

You’ll learn a lot at your checkups. At home, note any questions you have or issues you want to talk about. Take this list with you so that you don't forget anything.

At your visits, your healthcare provider will look for signs that you and your baby are healthy. He or she will also check that your baby is developing at a normal rate. He or she will check your weight gain, blood pressure, and the amount of protein in your urine. High blood pressure and high amounts of protein in your urine are signs of preeclampsia. This issue can be harmful to you and your baby. Your healthcare provider will also listen to your baby's heartbeat. He or she will also measure your belly to check your baby’s growth.  

Consider a birth plan

As you get closer to your due date, your healthcare provider will talk about what to expect during delivery. He or she will also ask if you have a birth plan.

A birth plan is a guide that describes what’s important to you about your childbirth experience. For instance, if you want a natural childbirth, if you want to breastfeed your baby right after birth, and if you want your partner involved.

The best birth plan describes your ideal delivery. You must also be aware that things may change during this critical time. Some women share their birth plants with their healthcare provider before their due date.

You may also find a birth plan is not for you. Many women just talk about their plans with their healthcare provider at their prenatal visits. Some women feel comfortable asking their healthcare provider to make decisions as they are needed during delivery. Choose the plan that is right for you and your baby.

Get follow-up care after delivery

After you give birth, your healthcare provider will visit you before you leave the hospital or birthing center. You should also have a follow-up checkup six weeks after birth.

During this checkup, your healthcare provider will give you an exam. This is a great time to talk about your experience during your prenatal care and at delivery. You can both learn what went well and what didn’t. Make a note of that, in case there is a next time.

Online Medical Reviewer: Bowers, Nancy, RN, BSN, MPHFoley, Maryann, RN, BSN

Date Last Reviewed: 5/1/2016

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