How should I choose an obstetrician for my pregnancy and delivery?

Choosing an obstetrician is an exciting, personal, and important start to a pregnancy. While most pregnancies result in healthy babies, dangerous complications can arise that can cause permanent, devastating injuries to the mother and/or baby. Given the extreme consequences of mishandled complications, it is important for parents to play a proactive role in selecting an obstetrician. Throughout this page, our birth injury team will covers some things that expectant mothers should consider when searching for and choosing an obstetrician.

Quality prenatal care

Quality prenatal care is crucial for the baby’s health. It is important to have regular testing throughout pregnancy, especially if the mother has a high-risk pregnancy. Prenatal testing should occur more frequently if mom is diagnosed with:

If a mother has a high-risk condition, she should ask the obstetrician how much experience he or she has with pregnant women who have had the same condition. Often, mothers with high-risk conditions are referred to maternal-fetal specialists who focus on the particular high-risk condition.

Questions to ask your potential provider

Listed below are some questions a pregnant woman can ask her prospective obstetricians to help choose which will provide her prenatal care and delivery:

  1. How many deliveries have you performed?
  2. How many deliveries have you been involved in where the baby required time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)?
  3. How many years of experience do you have in performing emergency C-sections?
Birth plan
  1. Will you please thoroughly explain the risks of, benefits of, and alternatives to any medications (such as Pitocin or Cytotec) that are used to induce or speed up labor?
  2. What type of delivery instruments (if any) do you use during labor & delivery?
Monitoring my baby’s heart rate
  1. Will you continuously monitor my baby’s heart rate when I go into labor?
  2. Are you skilled at interpreting fetal heart rate tracings? How many years of experience do you have with this?
  3. Will someone skilled in fetal heart rate interpretation be present at all times when I’m in labor?
  1. If my baby shows signs of distress and I cannot immediately deliver, do you and the hospital have the capability to quickly deliver by C-section?
  2. Will I be in or next to a room where a C-section can quickly be performed?
Emergency plans
  1. Will there be a second physician immediately available so that if both my baby and I are in distress, there is one physician focusing on me and one focusing on my baby?
  2. Is there proper resuscitation equipment immediately available in case my baby needs to be resuscitated after birth?
  3. Will there be a skilled neonatal resuscitation team immediately available that can put a breathing tube in my baby (intubate) if needed?

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Fetal monitoring is extremely important

If the obstetrician leaves the room during labor, the mother should not hesitate to ask the staff members present if they:

  • Are skilled at fetal heart rate interpretation
  • Have taken a proficiency exam

Research shows that a lot of medical malpractice occurs when abnormal (non-reassuring) fetal heart tracings are not recognized, or if they are recognized, there is a breakdown in communication among the staff. An example would be when the staff fails to communicate abnormal heart tracings to the obstetrician, and then the baby is not quickly delivered and is instead left in oxygen depriving conditions, which can cause brain injuries.

In addition to proper fetal monitoring, the mother must also be properly monitored. A mother’s blood pressure, heart rate, and physical signs (such as abdominal and back pain and lack of fetal movement) can give important information regarding impending or current fetal distress.

Do you have more questions about labor & delivery?

Reviewing this page may prompt additional questions. Not only from the pregnant person, but from friends, family, or the mother’s birthing partner too! Learn about the different prenatal tests that should be performed during pregnancy to help ensure the baby’s health.

Who Are We? ABC Law Centers: Birth Injury Lawyers

Medical mistakes made during pregnancy, labor and delivery can result in devastating injuries for your baby. Birth injury victims often go on to require lifelong care. Attorneys at ABC Law Centers exclusively pursue birth injury cases – and we have since 1997. Our firm’s multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements and happy clients speak for themselves. Reach out to our team for a free legal consultation, we’re available 24/7 to listen to your story.