Choosing a Caregiver

Jul 9 2007

Tips and Tools for choosing a Caregiver

How can I explore my options before making my decision?

It is a good idea for you to meet with several caregivers to explore options and become informed before making this important decision. If you are unsure about which type of caregiver to work with, you can interview different types of maternity caregivers. If you know you want to work with a specific type of caregiver, it is a good idea to consider more than one individual before making this important decision as personal styles and practices can vary.

What should I ask myself about the experience of meeting with a potential caregiver?

When you go to interview a caregiver and during your antenatal visits, ask yourself how you feel about the experience:

Is this person listening to me and respectful of my wish to make careful decisions?
Is the person willing to take the time to answer my questions to my satisfaction?
Does this person share my vision for my maternity care and birth?
Do I think that I can feel comfortable with and trust this person?
Can I get what I want from this person?
Does this feel right for me?
This person will be working intimately with you and your family through one of the most important times of your life. Remember, it is a privilege for them to be invited to be there. Follow your instincts. Only you can make the decision that is right for you. If you have concerns, even if you are well into your pregnancy and antenatal care, it may be important to explore other options.

As the saying goes if you don't change direction, you'll end up where you're heading.

How should I go about interviewing possible caregivers?

Make arrangements for a separate visit that is devoted to learning about the caregiver and practice a "chat" rather than a "booking" visit. This will give you a chance to gather information before you commit to working with one caregiver or another. Find out in advance whether the practice charges for such a visit and, if so, whether your medical aid will pay for a consultation for this purpose. Some practices offer regular informal get-togethers for newly pregnant women to meet with caregivers and learn about the practice.

You may want to ask your partner or a friend to come with you to the interview. This will allow you to discuss your thoughts and impressions afterward with someone you know and trust.

Having a list of questions with you (see below for questions that you may wish to print out) can help:
organise your thoughts and concerns
Ensure that you get all of your questions answered
Communicate to the caregiver that you are serious about your needs and preferences, and eager to be involved in decisions about your care
Show respect for the caregiver's time by being organized and efficient
Compare answers from different caregivers.
If you are interested in working with a specific caregiver, it is also important to:
meet and be sure you feel comfortable with anyone else who may be "on call" to attend your birth; even if practitioners work together in some capacity, their philosophy and approach can differ
explore and be sure you are comfortable with birth setting where the caregiver works; you can usually take a tour, and this website also has a link to questions to ask about birth settings.

How do I know that a caregiver practices in line with the best research about safe and effective care for mothers and babies?

Maternity care can vary from one caregiver to another. This website can help you understand why it is important to choose a caregiver who practices according to the highest standard of care, and can help you recognize such care.

What questions should I ask when interviewing a midwife?

This website provides a link to list of important questions you may want to ask to get to know midwives, their policies, and styles of practice. Think about what is important to you, and be sure to add any other questions or concerns that you may have.

You can download a pdf version of this list you will need to log in to download the PDF, but it is worth it as it is useful to take with you and has space for making notes, and take it with you when you interview midwives.

What questions should I ask when interviewing a doctor?
This website provides a link to a list ofimportant questions you may want to ask to get to know doctors, their policies, and styles of practice. Think about what is important to you, and be sure to add any other questions or concerns that you may have.

You can download a pdf version of this list you will need to log in to download the PDF, but it is worth it as it is useful to take with you and has space for making notes, and take it with you when you interview physicians.

How do I find out which caregivers and services are covered by my Medical Aid?

In order for your caregivers fees to be covered by a Medical Aid, you will need to know their practice number.

Contact your Medical Aid to find out:

Whether the Medical Aid covers care in the setting where you wish to give birth. Many South African Medical Aid companies hospital plans also cover home births
Whether there are any maternity services that are not covered
Whether they will cover visits that allow you to meet with caregivers before making your selection.
You will also want to check with your provider and birth setting to be sure that they accept your Medical Aid. Most caregivers in South Africa expect payment for each consultation up front and then you are able to claim back from the Medical Aid Scheme.