10 Questions to Ask When Choosing Your Prenatal Care Provider

4. How much time will you spend with me when I'm in labor?
Women who have never had a baby before often anticipate that their doctor will be with them in labor. And a few actually are there for the duration. But most doctors arrive near the time of the birth. If you ask this question outright, you will at least know in advance the realistic amount of time she (or whoever is on call) will be there, so that you can plan accordingly to have other supporters there for you.

5. What is your cesarean rate?
ACOG suggests that a reasonable rate is something less than 16 percent, while other observers believe a reasonable rate is even less than that. Ask what are the usual reasons why she performs cesareans? (Is her list compatible with valid reasons?)

6. What is your definition of high-risk?
The following conditions, according to ACOG in 1991, are considered high risk: maternal diabetes, high-blood pressure, heart or kidney disease, sexually transmitted diseases, such as AIDS and herpes, other viruses, including rubella and viral hepatitis, previous or current birth defects, multiple pregnancies, vaginal bleeding during pregnancy, breech position, postdate pregnancy (beyond 42 weeks), alcohol and drug use, smoking, environmental hazards, such as working around certain chemicals, radiation, prematurity, maternal age under 16 or over 35, convulsive disorders, chronic urinary tract infections, and severe anemia.

Your physician's list might have more or fewer conditions. Just as with the terms bonding and rooming in, the term high risk does not have a uniform accepted definition. If you're labeled high risk, don't assume that you will automatically have problems with your pregnancy. If the consequences of your doctor's high-risk label for you are upsetting, because it requires you to do things you don't want to do (such as frequent use of ultrasound or stress and nonstress tests), get a second opinion.

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