My husband and I switched obstetricians at thirty-eight weeks of pregnancy. Crazy? Maybe, but it turned out to be one of the best decisions we ever made.

Our obstetrician was respectful and polite at all my appointments right up until the time he realized we were serious about trying to have the natural delivery we discussed with him months before. He took an abrupt stance that natural delivery was not safe, and we should be prepared to abide by his recommendations.

Just for the record, our birth plan stated that we wanted a natural delivery as long as things were proceeding as normal and there was no harm to myself or our baby. He clearly had either a) not read our birth plan, or b) chose to ignore it. My pregnancy had been normal with no complications, but we had no desire to have natural delivery beyond what was safe. What we quickly learned was that many physicians, nurses, and hospital staff operate on the premise that natural delivery is not safe for anyone, and the ability to help a woman in this process contradicts anything they may have learned in medical school.

Following another antagonistic appointment, we contacted a new physician — one about whom we had heard good things. After receiving a phone call back from his nurse the same day (a good sign), she offered to set up a consultation appointment (another good sign, and something I had never before been offered).

At this visit, the doctor heard us out, looked over our birth plan, and offered his support. He was respectful of the fact that the health decisions made in the delivery room would first and foremost affect our child.

Three weeks later, after 34 hours of labor, a few complications, and my unborn son in an awkward position, this doctor helped us deliver a healthy baby. We did not have the natural delivery we had hoped, but with our new doctor’s support and the support of our birth assistant, we were able to labor at home for a long time and avoid a cesarean birth. Most importantly, our baby was healthy and delivered by a doctor we quickly came to trust not to jump on the bandwagon of unnecessary medical interventions.

Before deciding on a physician to provide you and your child with prenatal care, take some steps to help you find a good fit.

1. Talk to local friends and/or family about their doctors and who they recommend. It’s important to find others connected to your same health system with whom you find you share similar beliefs regarding medical/prenatal care. If natural birth process is something you would like, check with local doulas and/or midwives in your area. They may be excellent resources for knowing supportive doctors.

2. Call the doctor’s office and ask for a consultation appointment with the physician. See how he or she responds to your questions and preferences regarding prenatal care, labor, and delivery.

3. Remember that, while the physician is the one with the medical training, everything in medicine is not black and white. According to the American Pregnancy Association, 60 – 80% of women experience a low-risk pregnancy. The association also points out that “obstetricians are trained to manage complications using many medical interventions.”

4. Expect respect from your physician. If you’re not getting it, move on. The Code of Professional Ethics of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists lists patient autonomy (the right of a patient to make her own health care decisions) as one of its ethical foundations. It also states that the physician “should serve as the patient’s advocate.”

Regardless of the kind of delivery you hope to have, anything can change. Find a physician who respects you enough to safely support your choices and help you in the process.