Choosing the right obstetrician to guide you through one of life’s most important events can be challenging.
For expats in Singapore, maternity costs are often covered by corporate health insurance, so we give birth in private hospitals and see obstetricians for our prenatal checkups. Obstetricians usually only work at one hospital, occasionally two (one private, one public), so if your health insurance doesn’t cover all hospitals, then your choice of obstetrician will be limited to those who work with a particular hospital.
Although it is worth asking friends for their recommendations, every woman has different preferences for childbirth, so you should do plenty of research and visit a number of obstetricians if possible. It is important that you feel comfortable with the obstetrician, because you will have to share intimate and personal details with them without feeling too embarrassed.
Every obstetrician has his or her own beliefs and preferences about the birth process. Some are pro natural birthing with as little intervention as possible. Some are pro-intervention, for example inducing labour, using forceps or vacuum, performing episiotomies and caesareans. Some happily support a vaginal breech birth, while others may insist on doing a caesarean. Some think that a 9lb or 4kg Western baby is huge as Asian babies are generally smaller, and may want to induce labour at 38 weeks or perform an unnecessary c-section.
Here’s a list of questions you might like to ask obstetricians before choosing the right one for you:
Which hospitals do you attend?
|•||Are you available around my estimated due date?|
|•||What are your philosophies and beliefs about birth? Is it a medical process that needs to be monitored continuously and controlled, or a natural process where nature should take its course before intervening?|
|•||How informed and involved will I be in the decision-making process during pregnancy and labour?|
|•||What are your thoughts on pain relief during labour? Do you assume that everyone will have pain relief, or do you support and encourage natural pain relief methods?|
|•||Will you and the hospital staff respect my birth plan but provide guidance if and when it needs to be changed?|
|•||What are your thoughts on electronic foetal monitoring during labour, and when do you think it should be used?|
|•||What is your induction rate, and at what point do you feel induction of labour should be considered?|
|•||What do you think about time limits for labouring?|
|•||What is your caesarean section rate, and in what situations will you recommend a caesarean section?|
|•||What is your episiotomy rate, and in what situations would you perform one?|
|•||How often do you use a forceps or vacuum to deliver a baby?|
|•||Will I be able to have skin-to-skin contact with my baby and start breastfeeding shortly after the birth?|
|•||Are you willing to let me have a vaginal birth for my second baby even though I had my first via caesarean?|
|•||How do you feel about vaginal breech birth? If you support it, what conditions do you have?|
|•||How do you manage the third stage of labour, that is, the birth of the placenta? Do you allow it to happen naturally, or do you intervene and give an injection to expel the placenta?|