When it comes time to choose your doctor or midwife for the prenatal care and birth of your baby, it is wise to consider: are the nearest care providers necessarily the best ones? It may be convenient to choose a practice that is just a few miles away and who delivers at the hospital closest to you, but if you choose a care provider based on mileage alone, you may not receive the kind of evidence-based care that can give you the best experience and outcome.
Driving 45 minutes or an hour (some women drive even further!) to your place of birth is possible, even in labor! And for the right kind of care, it's worth the effort. For most women -- and especially first-time moms -- labor gives you plenty of warning and ramp-up time before baby is born. It is very rare for babies to born in the car on the side of the highway, despite what the media would have you believe.
So how do you find the best care provider now that your radius is wider? The simplest first step is to ask for recommendations. Ask your friend or sister who had a great birth experience and contact doulas and childbirth educators in your local birth network for referrals -- these women see first-hand, on a regular basis, how care providers in your area practice.
To better evaluate a prospective care provider, learn about the kinds of questions you should ask when choosing your doctor or midwife, and some of the "red flags" to be aware of once you are in their care.