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Pregnancy is full of changes. Your body changes, your emotions are all over the place, and even your house changes to accommodate all of the “necessary” baby accessories. One of the less common changes – but one with potentially big impact – is changing your doctor or midwife. If the prenatal care you’re receiving isn’t meeting your needs or if your care provider doesn’t support your preferences for birth, consider switching to a new practice. Finding a new doctor or midwife, even if you’re in your third trimester, isn’t as difficult as you may think.
Your choice of care provider has a significant impact on your birth, affecting both the health and safety of you and your baby, as well as the satisfaction and enjoyment of your experience. While there is a standard code of ethics and guidelines in obstetrical care, care providers practice differently. Some have unusually high rates of induction and cesarean; some are more experienced in supporting natural or low-intervention births while others prefer a more medicalized management of birth; some do a wonderful job of involving you in your care while others do not. Choosing one care provider over another could mean the difference in having a vaginal birth or having a cesarean birth, despite the same set of circumstances. Below are some reasons why you might consider choosing a new OB or midwife:
• Questions are dismissed or unanswered during prenatal appointments
• You feel uncertain about a suggested treatment or course of action
• You want a water birth and your practice doesn’t allow it
• You dislike being in a group practice
• Your provider will not deliver twins or breech baby vaginally
• Doulas are not encouraged or allowed at birth with the care provider
• You feel like a “number”
• Preferences on your birth plan are not allowed or encouraged
If you attend a group practice where several doctors rotate being on call for births, be sure to meet with and talk to each doctor in the practice. If you’re happy with your primary doctor’s care, ask her if the other doctors or midwives have a similar philosophy and style – and find out for yourself. If you meet another provider in the practice who doesn’t align with your preferences for birth, understand that there is a chance this doctor will be at your birth. Even practices with one doctor or midwife on staff contract with a back-up provider in case of illness or emergency. Ask about their back-up and find out if you can meet him.