Unless you’re a detective or have the last name Woodward or Bernstein, you may not feel all that comfortable asking your OB-GYN difficult questions. Why? They can make your subject—and you—uncomfortable, squirmy or standoffish.
But when it comes to your pregnancy, having answers to seemingly awkward questions should trump all of that: “What is your Cesarean section rate? What if I don’t want drugs under any circumstance? I want to know exactly what’s happening when it’s happening—will you give me the play-by-play?” Of course, you want concrete responses—and you don’t want your doctor to snap back, “What do I look like, an ESPN announcer?”
There’s a fine line between having the right to know your doc’s birth philosophy and practices and making him or her feel defensive and insulted with an aggressive line of questioning. The key, we believe, is not necessarily in what you ask, but the way you approach it.
Our strategy for asking the tough questions:
Step 1: Choose the right doc—for you
When you’re looking for an OB-GYN, or if he or she is already your doc, you still want to go over some questions before you get into the throes of labor and delivery. If you need to find a doctor, there are many online resources; see YOU: The Smart Patient (Free Press); friends and family make excellent resources, too.
Perhaps the most vital question to ask early is this: “What’s your philosophy on childbirth?” It’s an innocuous question, allows your doctor to take you through her guiding principles, and allows you to ask follow-ups in a nonthreatening way (“So what do you do if x, y, or z happens?”).