Choosing a midwife or specialist doctor

It’s important that you feel comfortable with the person who will care for you during your pregnancy and when you are having your baby.

This page has a list of questions that you can ask that may help you to choose your midwife or specialist doctor.

Choosing who’s going to look after you

When you find out you are pregnant, you should choose who’s going to look after you as early as possible. This is important for your health and for your baby. Most women choose a midwife but you may wish to choose a specialist doctor (an obstetrician). In some places a general practitioner (a GP) who has been specially trained to care for pregnant women may be available. This person is called your lead maternity carer and they will look after you while you are pregnant, during labour and birth and for 4–6 weeks after your baby is born.

Specialist care will be provided if you need it at any stage, no matter who your lead maternity carer is. Specialist care is usually provided through your local hospital, and in this case it’s free.

Visit Find Your Midwife or talk to your doctor or nurse about choosing a midwife or specialist doctor.

Maternity care is a partnership between you and the midwife or specialist doctor whom you have chosen. They look after your and your baby’s physical health but should also support your emotional and mental health, and help you to feel confident about your pregnancy and birth. Your midwife or specialist doctor should involve your whānau and other support people in this partnership if this is what you want. You should also be clear about sharing your preferences, health history and any ongoing concerns with your midwife or specialist doctor.

Questions to ask your midwife or specialist doctor

We've provided a list of questions you can ask before you choose your midwife or specialist doctor. You could also ask whānau, friends and other doctors and nurses for advice.

Remember that you can change the person who is looking after you at any time – although in most cases women find that it’s important to have the same person throughout pregnancy, giving birth and after baby is born.

Questions about maternity care

  • Will you be my only carer, or will others be involved? (Many midwives work in teams. If your main carer is a specialist doctor you will see a midwife as well while you are in labour and giving birth, and in the early weeks after giving birth. See the questions below if you are choosing a specialist doctor.)
  • How can I contact you if I need help or advice in and out of normal working hours?
  • Are you taking leave in the month or months before or after my baby is due?
  • Who will give backup care for me if you can’t be there?
  • What choices do you offer for where I give birth (eg, hospital, maternity unit, birthing unit, home birth, water birth)?
  • Where will I see you for my pregnancy check-up visits? Will you visit me in my home? Will I go to a clinic?
  • How many visits can I expect to have? Will you visit me at home in early labour?
  • What happens if you are away or with someone else when I go into labour?
  • Will I be able to meet your backup midwife or doctor?
  • What happens if I need specialist care during my pregnancy or my labour? If this happens, will you continue to care for me?
  • Who will be caring for me after the birth – in hospital and when I go home? If I stay in hospital, what will your role be?
  • After baby is born, how many visits can I expect, both in hospital and at home, and for how many weeks? Between visits, are you available for me to phone you for advice?
  • Can I give feedback on the care you give?
  • How would you describe the maternity care that you give in pregnancy, labour and birth?
  • What is your philosophy about childbirth?
  • What’s your experience and about how many births a year do you attend?
  • How many other women have you got booked who are due about the same time as me?

Further questions if you are choosing a specialist doctor to provide your care

  • Will I have to pay – and if so, for what, how much and when?
  • Who will be my midwife during labour?
  • Can I meet the midwife who will care for me during labour?
  • Who will visit me at home when I go home from hospital?
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