Some people have low-intervention, vaginal births because of their provider, and some people do it despite their provider. People should also see their provider as their advocate. Someone who doesn’t just tolerate your birth preferences, but who embraces them and does what they can to help you get to that end goal. Of course everyone wants a competent provider, but that is the bare minimum. Just like everyone wants a healthy parent and healthy baby at the end of a labor, the way the labor happens also matters. The way your midwife or doctor treats you matters. Providers all have differing comfort levels with physiological birth. Some are going to be more holistic in their approach and some are more likely to turn to interventions.
So how do you choose a provider that is going to be aligned with your values? If you are working with a doula, they are a great resource! One of the benefits of hiring a doula earlier in the process is you have a sounding board for making decisions like these. They likely have experience with a bunch of different providers in your area and can walk you through the process of choosing a provider. Here are some steps you can take:
Check in with yourself. What kind of traits are you looking for in a provider? Compassion, efficiency, patience, a sense of humor? What factors are also important? Location, time of appointments, hospital affiliation, etc.?
Find relevant referrals. Just because your friend loved their provider and you love your friend doesn’t mean their doctor is going to be the right fit for you. If you feel comfortable, ask them more about their experience. Were they hoping for the same kind of birth as you’re planning? What specifically did they like about their provider?
Interview your provider. Sit down with them face to face. Do you like how they explain things? Do they make you feel comfortable? There are a lot of practices with multiple providers and it is hard to ensure you will get along equally well with all of them. In those situations, try to get a sense for how the group practices as a whole. If you would be horrified if one of the providers attends your birth, maybe steer clear of that practice.
Have important conversations early and often. It is never too early to talk about how you want to give birth. Is your provider open to having conversations about your goals? Beyond wanting a vaginal birth, there are important details that can impact your laboring experience. If one of your goals is to go into labor spontaneously, you can ask a provider in your first conversation about their induction policy. You don’t want to wait until you are 37 weeks pregnant to hear that your practice does a routine induction at 41 weeks. If you’re delivering in NYC, it is especially difficult to switch after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Be up front now to save you trouble later on.