Broadly speaking, you have four options when it comes to choosing a pregnancy doctor:
- An obstetrician
- A midwife in private practice
- Some general practitioners
- Public sector midwives with medical backing
Most women will have visited a gynaecologist for regular checks prior to falling pregnant. At that stage they don’t usually evaluate the gynaecologist as a potential birth attendant. Although gynaecology and obstetrics are related and one and the same person practices them, gynaecology deals primarily with the prevention and treatment of female reproductive illness. Obstetrics, most of the time, is about healthy pregnancies and births.
Tips to choose a pregnancy doctor
Choosing a specific practitioner is not that easy. Follow these tips to make the process easier:
- Contact the hospitals in your area (on the one you would like to give birth at) and find out which doctors practice from there.
- Ask friends and acquaintances about their experiences.
- ‘Interview’ a few doctors. It’s important to find someone with whom you feel comfortable.
- Look for someone who takes note of your preferences and tries to support you as far as safely possible.
- Ask your general practitioner for a referral.
- For that more personal touch, many women are turning to the services of a private midwife. Most medical funds reimburse for private midwifery services.
- When choosing your pregnancy and birthing team, be sure that you are not too rigid in your approach.
Questions to ask possible pregnancy doctors:
What is your C-section rate?
If your doctor does in excess of 20% Caesarean sections, you can be sure that you have a good chance of having one too. Although C-sections are quite safe nowadays, there are many other subtle concerns like bonding, postnatal depression, poor breastfeeding and sensory challenges like tactile defensiveness to consider. It’s also major abdominal surgery.
Will you be on holiday around my expected date of delivery?
Medical intervention rates go up hugely around the typical holiday times. Apart from that, to suddenly have to change to a locum practitioner right at the end of your pregnancy is not pleasant.
What is your episiotomy rate?
Episiotomies don’t have to be a foregone conclusion and you need a practitioner who believes that too. He or she must be able to advise you on how to avoid perineal tears and cuts.
Do you routinely induce birth if a pregnancy goes over the expected date of delivery?
A woman’s due date is a contrived calculation which has limited accuracy. Most first pregnancies go over the due date. It certainly is important to check both the mother’s and baby’s condition well and frequently towards the end of pregnancy, but if all is going well, there’s no reason to induce birth early.
Question your practitioner about his or her approach to childbirth.
This will help you decide whether or not he or she is the right caregiver for you. Be concerned if your practitioner cannot take the time to discuss in a relaxed fashion the details you require.