What if my Ob/Gyn isn’t on call to deliver my baby?
March 9, 2021
My colleagues each deliver 10 to 20 babies a month, and almost every one of them delivers a few newborns whose moms saw a different Ob/Gyn for prenatal care.
We love to welcome our patients’ babies into the world personally, and particularly for high-risk pregnancy patients, we do our best to be there for your delivery. But it isn’t always feasible, depending on when you go into labor.
Doctors, midwives, and nurses work on rotating shifts, and like you, most of us have our own families to care for outside of our careers. But it’s important to note that at an academic medical center like UT Southwestern, there will be experts on hand 24-7. You and your baby will benefit from a team of providers at UTSW who meet regularly to discuss each other’s patients, particularly as expecting mothers get closer to their due dates.
Working closely with our nursing team, our Ob/Gyns stay current on our patients’ needs and concerns. If you go into labor at a time when your regular provider is not on call or available, the attending Ob/Gyn will have the information they need to care for you and your baby.
We understand the prospect of not having your regular provider at childbirth might be stressful, so we've put together a list of tips to help prepare just in case that scenario happens to you.
4 delivery topics to discuss with your OB/Gyn
Don’t hesitate to ask questions and keep an open line of communication with your Ob/Gyn. Make sure you understand what’s possible and realistic. Start with these four topics.
1. Rotation schedules
When choosing an Ob/Gyn, ask about the practice's rotation or on-call system along with their general philosophy and at which hospital(s) they deliver. Planned rotation schedules help ensure that, even though your doctor might not be able to be there for the birth, the doctor on call will be rested, focused, and capable of dealing with any situation.
You can also ask if your doctor rounds with their own patients in the hospital after delivery, even if they aren’t present for the birth. That way, you might still get to see them at the hospital after you've had your baby.
2. Prenatal care model
Some smaller practices may have you see each doctor for at least one prenatal visit. That way you have a face to put with a name when you arrive to give birth. This isn’t always feasible with large practices such as ours, or when private groups share an on-call schedule. In these cases, feel free to ask about and research partner providers.
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3. Delivery volume per provider
It's totally appropriate to ask your Ob/Gyn how many of their own patients’ deliveries they attend or how often they attend deliveries at each hospital at which they have privileges at. You should also inquire about who else may attend your prenatal and postpartum appointments and delivery, such as nurses, nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives, or physicians assistants.
4. Scheduled induction or C-section
Some practices offer the option to schedule induction or cesarean section (C-section) on a date that your Ob/Gyn or certified nurse-midwife is on call. Ask your provider about their philosophy on scheduled deliveries and whether they personally supervise those planned deliveries. Many organizations feel comfortable offering elective induction or C-section once you reach 39 weeks.
Prepared for all labor possibilities
If you discuss all of the possible delivery scenarios with your Ob/Gyn and team, you are more likely to feel prepared for the big day. Bring your birth preferences document with you when you go into labor and discuss it with your medical team. In most practices, doctors have similar philosophies. If your doctor isn’t able to be at the delivery, the on-call provider should honor the preferences.
Also, don’t forget to lean on your labor support person – your partner, family member, friend, or doula who has been attending your prenatal care appointments and prenatal education classes. They have your back and are ready to support you during labor and delivery.
At the end of the day, our goal is the same as yours – a happy, healthy mom and baby – and that’s why we surround our patients with a team of experts, focused on your delivery.