Recently, I had a conversation with a doctor about the hows and whys of how I choose which care providers to refer families to. They can be OBs, Family Med docs, Midwives, Pediatricians, Chiropractors, LCs, Birth and Postpartum Doulas, and Dentist, as well as a variety of other specialties. So, when I decide which names to give to a family, I do so based on the following criteria:
- Where is the provider located? Whenever possible, I try to find the most appropriate professional as close to the family geographically as possible. In some cases, it can be difficult to find certain specialties in certain geographic areas, so I may have to explain to the family why they might need to travel an extra distance to get care.
- What kind of training and qualifications does this professional have?Again, I want to make sure that the professionals have an adequate amount of experience. I’m slightly hesitant to refer families to brand-new doulas, for example, because I’ve seen too many families left in the lurch when a doula wasn’t able to make it to a birth. I also want to know that the professionals have actual experience working with families with a specific situation. It’s always a good sign to me if they have gone to get extra training in a certain field, such as a chiropractor being Webster Certified.
- Do I feel comfortable with the how knowledgeable the provider is? While I’m not a doctor or a chiropractor, there are certain things that can clue me in to the quality of care they can give the families I work with. Accurate breastfeeding knowledge is one huge thing I pay attention to; sorry, it’s just not ok when they (especially chiros) start telling breastfeeding moms that they can only eat a perfect diet. Talk about #firstworldproblems! Car seats is another issue that indicates the quality of a provider’s care. Any doctor who still tells parents to turn baby around at 1 year or 20 pounds is IMMEDIATELY removed from my list of who I can comfortable refer to; that hasn’t been appropriate for at least 5 years. Another red flag for me is when a provider can’t handle the basics, like getting measuring effacement backwards. If I, as a doula or educator, know the basics better than they do…well, that’s not good. Extra negative bonus points if their lack of knowledge results is serious harm to mom or baby. Again, the doula should not know what’s wrong 3 hours before the OB figures it out.
- Do they quote actual studies? I may not know every study by heart, but I’m very good at recognizing absolute BS. IF they make up “studies” to try to seem evidence based, but in fact are making recommendations that do not match official guidelines of their professional orgs, that’s just not OK.
- Are they ethical? Do they behave with integrity? Do they charge a fair amount, or are they overpriced (and do they keep jacking up their rates)? Do they treat moms and babies with respect? Do they treat other professional with respect? I have no leeway for anyone that isn’t ethical.
- Do families have positive feedback? This is important. The experience that families have with the professionals to whom they are referred is a critical reflection on BabyLove. If I consistently hear good feed back and families are seeing positive results, then those providers end up getting a LOT more referrals from me.
- Do they reciprocate? In this heavily saturated market, I know that there are usually a lot of options. However, if a provider NEVER refers families to me, that’s just plain rude, and they can expect the same in return. It’s just common sense. I also try very hard to avoid the omnipresence habit of being “cliquey” when it comes to my network. Substance over style, I say.
I think all of these things are fair, and it has taken awhile to get down to a list I feel good about. I’ve been very excited to add good providers to my list in the last couple of months, too, and always love sitting down with any new professionals to chat and to see if they would be a good addition to my list.
Thoughts? Questions? Concerns? Leave ‘em below!