By: Natasha Lowe Osho MD FACOG, NASM CPT, Pre/Postnatal Performance Training Specialist
Have you ever talked to your OB/GYN or Midwife about their birth philosophy? What is the culture of your provider’s group when it comes to prenatal and postpartum care? In this blog, I want to discuss the importance of having a “Meet and Greet” before choosing your prenatal care provider.
Pregnancy is an exciting and stressful time for many women. Everyone is open to sharing their stories with you, but every pregnancy is very different. Your experience may differ vastly from your friends and family. A woman can even have a very different experience from one pregnancy to the next. There are some things we can’t control during pregnancy, but you can choose which provider or practice to take on the journey with you.
I always enjoyed Meet and Greet visits. I viewed it as my time to get to know the patient, share my birth philosophy, and determine if we “vibe” together. I cannot express how important it is for you and your provider to be on the same page throughout the journey. Now, you may not agree with everything your provider does, but the respect in the relationship is mutual and you feel empowered in decision making.
Have I convinced you on the importance of the “Meet and Greet?” If so, here are some topics you could discuss during the visit.
Your Prenatal Care
- How often are you scheduled for prenatal visits? How long are these visits scheduled for? What happens if you must talk to your provider after the office closes or on the weekends?
- What is the timeline for completion of prenatal labs? What labs are included in your prenatal panel?
- What is the policy regarding ultrasounds? The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) recommends all patients get a fetal anatomy ultrasound between 18-22 weeks to assess for anomalies. Will you also be offered a first trimester and/or third trimester ultrasound? Are ultrasounds performed in the office or will you have to go to an outside facility?
Your Birth Experience
- What is the practice culture surrounding your birth experience? Are the providers receptive to your birth wishes? Do they work well with doulas? Are you able to walk during labor? Are they open to using different birthing positions? Can you have low lights, soft music, essential oils, massage therapy, and/or acupuncture during labor?
- What is the practice culture regarding labor induction? What happens if you go past your due date? If you have specific medical issues, this is the time to discuss how it could affect the timing of your delivery.
- How does the provider and/or practice cover hospital deliveries? Is there a dedicated person for hospital call coverage or could your provider get called out of the office for a delivery? Is it a small group where you will likely meet all of the providers before delivery, or a large group where you could meet your provider for the first time during delivery?
Your Birth Location
- What options are available when choosing a birthing location (Home, Birthing Center, Hospital)? If you are choosing a non-hospital birth, what happens in the event of an emergency?
- It is just as important to research the hospital as it is your provider. Having worked in a few hospitals during my career, I can attest that Labor and Delivery units also have unique cultures and experiences. What is the visitor policy? What is the policy on filming and photography? What options are available for pain management?
- For women who are considering an epidural, are the Anesthesiologists or Certified Nurse Anesthetists in the hospital at all times, or do they come to the hospital only when needed? For women who are planning cesarean sections, does the hospital provide clear drapes if you desire to see baby being born?
- Does the hospital have an OB/GYN on the unit at all times in the case of an emergency?
- Do they practice the Golden Hour? What is the availability of nursery care for the baby? Are lactation consultants available?
This list is by no means complete. I encourage you to ask questions that are specific to your medical history and birth wishes. You must determine the wishes that are most important to you and your family, and this should be your focus at the Meet and Greet visit. Ultimately, the purpose of the Meet and Greet is to determine if you believe this provider (and practice) has the culture, philosophy, knowledge, and skills to safely guide you through your pregnancy. Do not underestimate this often overlooked reason to visit your healthcare provider.