So, we went straight to the source. The marvelous Alexa Clay agreed to be our expert witness. She’s a Certified Nurse-Midwife at Women’s Healthcare Associates and was a doula for over a decade before deciding to go into midwifery, so to many of the doulas in town (yours truly included) she’s kind of a rock star. She’s also a busy mother of two, so we’re incredibly thankful that she took the time to work on this blog post with us.
Here’s what Alexa had to say to my probing questions:
How can patients best let their Healthcare Provider know their wishes for their birth? For example, do midwives and OBs prefer for a client to tell them their wishes during office visits, or is a printed-out birth plan better?
Alexa: I feel like the most effective way of learning about a patient's expectations is for the patient to write out what their biggest wishes/expectations are for their birth and to bring them into their prenatal visit sometime during the last month or two. I like to read over and discuss the plan with them. It's a great opportunity to talk in more depth about practice philosophy and which expectations are easily attainable or even standard, and which ones may need more discussion. In our practice we put notes in people's charts about things that we may need to be reminded of when they come in for labor.
What happens if a patient disagrees with the health care provider’s recommendation or point of view? What's the best way that a patient can handle a situation like that? Should the patient worry that the doctor or midwife will be offended?
Alexa: Do your research and learn what the latest evidence says. Ask about risks and benefits of specific procedures. Just as importantly- ask about what the risks and benefits are if you do not do a procedure. Your provider is your partner in health and decisions should feel like joint decisions, especially during a normal, healthy pregnancy and birth.
Is it possible for a patient to ask too many questions?
Alexa: Have your questions written down or type them into your phone. Asking questions is important and should be expected by providers. Do be mindful of your midwife or doctor's time. Some questions can wait until future appointments.
What can a patient/partner do to make their health care provider’s job easier?
Alexa: Be curious, read books, go to childbirth education classes, hire a doula! See your doctor or midwife as an advocate- a part of your team.
Does having a knowledge of medical terminology help patients understand what their doctors and midwives are saying in appointments?
Alexa: If you don't understand what your midwife or doctor is talking about, ask them. We should be able to explain everything in terms that you understand.
There you have it, friends! My very own, up-close-and-personal (via email, anyway) interview with Alexa Clay, CNM and all-around awesome person. Thanks for your time, Alexa!
So, dear readers, we pose these questions to YOU:
1. What were some effective ways you found of talking with your care provider and getting the answers you wanted and needed?
2. What would you do differently if you got to do it over again?
3. What advice would you give new parents?
Can’t wait to hear your responses!