What Makes a Great Care Provider

I posed this question on our facebook page to women and asked them what it was that their care provider did that made them love them. These are some of the answers I received:

I loved that the doctor for my second baby was humble and really took the time to listen to my questions, thoughts, and concerns. He made me feel like I was his only patient of the day and treated me and my husband with respect.

I love that my provider encourages me to learn about my birth options and shares worthwhile resources (books, websites, birth groups, doula services, etc.) with me to become as educated and knowledgeable as possible.  I visited several practitioners and always asked the question, “What books do you recommend for me to read?” And when they struggled to come up with an answer or only suggested “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”, I knew they were not the right fit for me.

A good provider doesn’t tell you what you have to do, they give you options & information and allow you to choose.

I love that my midwives spend time getting to know me, and allow me to labor and birth the way I want to.

Even on a busy day my doctor would stop what he was doing and look at me if I was talking. He cared what I thought and said.

Sat down with me to go over my typed page of questions each and every visit. I now know what a pain I must have been. But she started scheduling double Appts for me, and inviting her students in I answer some of my “excellent questions”. (I imagine to give them practice with difficult patients)

He treated me like a human being. Most doctors rush in, list symptoms they observe and walk away. My doctor actually showed that he cared and was compassionate.

Sits down to talk at every appointment vs chatting while typing up his note.

Makes me feel like the most important person he or she has….

Listens. Explains (in a non-condescending way). Cares!

Let me just add. We lost our baby at 40 weeks 2 days. Today we received a call from the doctor who took time out to call us and let us know what the results from the placenta/ cord testing were. So grateful for his kindness and time.

Do you see the resounding theme that seems to be in every one of these responses? It is respect.

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When a care provider enters a room and gets on the same level with you both physically and emotionally, it is one of the huge things I notice right away, not only as a patient but also as a doula. My favorite midwives come into a labor room and enter quietly. They assess how their patient is doing by watching first. They are fully present. They do not mention how busy they are or how many other patients are sharing their attention. They get on the same level as the mom. If she is standing, they stand by her and touch her gently. If the mom is on a ball or sitting in the bed, they find something to sit on to get down to her level. I can not stand it when someone stands over me and crosses their arms across their chest and acts like they are doing a quick stop by on their way to someone or something else. And my clients tell me the same thing. It feels like someone in charge is coming in to tell you how it is going to be done to you.

I love it when a care provider is quiet initially, determining  if the mom has anything to share. I recently had a midwife enter the room and stand over the mom who was sitting in the bed. The mom was struggling with a decision to be induced. I knew what she was feeling about the new plan that had just been told to her. She had shared her heart with me on her desires. She felt she was being derailed. As her eyes filled up with tears and I could see she was having a hard time finding her words, I asked her if she wanted to share what she was feeling. Before she could even begin to form her words, the midwife said, “I know what she is feeling. She has resisted this induction for over a week!” I could not believe the midwife had been so abruptly rude and disrespectful. I stated my question again and then the mom began to share what she did not want and how she had hoped her birth would go even in the midst of an induction. The midwife seemed miffed and immediately said something condescending but agreed to the mom’s desires and then turned and left the room abruptly. The couple did not feel supported by this midwife at all.

I love it when a care provider trusts the woman. When she trusts they woman has feelings that are valid and listens is a wonderful thing. The patient may not have all the information correct or have a complete understanding, but a care provider that listens and honors the patient’s feelings by listening and reflecting back what has been shared is so valuable. When we are treated like idiots and our feelings are not validated or even heard, it disrupts respect and brings up a wall to any further trust and communication. So when you come back to bully her further, you may find more resistance. It is due to mistrusting the care provider’s words moving forward.

I love it when a care provider provides options. The opposite of this is when a care provider gives ultimatums that are driven by their desires without regard to the patient’s desires.  It may be in the patient’s best interest, but shoving it onto her will serve no one. I had a midwife recently tell me that the plan had been determined. That the patient had to agree to one thing in order to get the thing they immediately desired. The patient felt bullied. They felt tremendously disrespected and unheard. Then the midwife told me to “get them on board.” OH NO, that is not my job as a doula! Why was it so hard to sit down and share the options that were in front of them? Why not allow them to be a part of the decision making since it is their birth? One way to help a woman have an empowered birth is to allow her to make decisions that are right for her.

Finding a voice is so hard during vulnerable times. I recently had a mom who chose a practice because she was promised no one would arbitrarily induce her based on dates alone. She reached the 41 weeks and 4 day mark and was told that she needed to be induced since she would not be allowed to go past 42 weeks. Her due date she understands was a guesstimate. Her baby had passed his biophysical beautifully. She had also had a non stress test done that day and passed with flying colors. I had taught her to ask, “How am I doing? How is my baby doing?” Both answers were they were both doing great. What had happened that caused them to want to push her body into an induction? Nothing but the calendar. She was made to feel her body “should” be doing better. But her body was doing great being pregnant and her body was keeping her baby safe. Just because her cervix was not opening and her body had not gone into labor did not mean her body had failed her.

I love it when facts and evidence based medicine are practiced and not fear based medicine. “Today your baby is fine. but we do not know how your baby will be tomorrow, or if in labor- in the next hour.” Well we did not know that last week either. So do a biophysical- how is the baby actually doing? How is the placenta actually working? That is evidenced based medicine. I love care providers who look at the facts. I love it when they share risks but also trust birth and women’s bodies. Pulling out the “dead baby” card to manipulate a woman is not playing fair. It is pure manipulation and attempts to bamboozle a woman into being compliant. It needs to stop!

If you have a care provider that can not pass the provider ap questions  that Dr. Brad Bootstaylor devised, then you need to ask yourself is this the right provider for me? If you do not feel listened to- really heard, if you do not feel respected and cared about, if you feel like your voice or desires are not part of their plan for you, then consider a change of providers.