Choosing your Obstetrician

(This article is also available in an audio format)

By Dr. Alan Adno – Gynaecologist and Obstetrician – Parklane Clinic

The Obstetrician together with other maternity professionals, i.e. midwives, childbirth educators, paediatricians, anaesthetists and general practitioners form part of a team that cares for pregnant women and their families.

Modern maternity care is more “patient friendly” with the pregnant woman assuming a central role in making choices that affect her.

Gone, or going are the days of the autocratic and paternalistic (or maternalistic) doctor and today’s obstetrician needs to be more sensitive to the changing needs of pregnant women and the way they feel about their pregnancy and birth.

Two way communication between the obstetrician and yourself is essential. All your questions and anxieties regarding any aspect of your pregnancy and delivery must be open for discussion.

Information should be provided in a clear and unbiased, non prescriptive way but the obstetrician should still be able to guide you in making appropriate choices. However the freedom of choice will rest with you, the patient, who will be able to make informed choices after having all the available options explained to you and having all procedures and interventions carefully discussed and explained.

Many patients today draw up a carefully thought out birth plan. Be sure that the obstetrician is part of this process and that he / she and other members of the team know exactly what you want, e.g. Let the obstetrician know what your views are as far as routine enemas and shaving, what interventions you would allow and how these should be carried out.

However be prepared for alternative actions and discuss these options with the obstetrician as unfortunately sometimes things don’t go according to plan and you will need to trust the obstetrician to help you make the correct and the safest choice.

Although your doctor may be extremely busy, when it is your turn to be seen, he must have the time to listen and explain.

Once your choice is made, you should feel confident with his / her expertise and advice. If you are not satisfied, then it remains your prerogative to seek another opinion and even to change obstetricians. Patients have different needs and this will determine which obstetrician they eventually choose.

Practical considerations may also affect your choice, i.e.

  • Location of consulting rooms and maternity hospitals.
  • Costs – whether you are on a medical aid or not and what portion of the bill they will cover.
  • Locums -if your doctor happens to be away at the time of your delivery, will you be introduced to his or her locum.

Pregnancy and childbirth should be a rewarding and happy experience. Confidence in your choice of obstetrician will create a climate of security and trust, and enable you and your family to experience this special time to its full.

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