The following 2 passages: "What Defines Good Care" and "Red-Flag Responses from Your Care Provider" are found in Henci Goer's book The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth.
What Defines Good Care
What defines good care are good obstetricians, family practitioners, and midwives who:
-Believe childbearing to be a fundamentally healthy and normal part of a woman's life.
-Treat women holistically, taking into consideration their thoughts, feelings, concerns, and priorities.
-Respect the right of a woman to make informed decisions for themselves and their babies.
-Respect labor as an experience with its own lessons and rewards.
-Offer supportive rather than interventive care.
-Evaluate individually and do not treat by rule.
-Start small when intervention becomes necessary.
-Keep abreast of the medical literature.
Red-Flag Responses From Your Care Provider
-Scare tactics. "We can do that - if you don't care what happens to the baby." "Which would you rather have: a nice experience or a healthy baby?" You can have both. In fact, the things that make a nice experience also make for a healthy baby. "I can't be responsible if you insist on/won't do ______." "This is a premium baby; we don't want to take any chances." This one is used on older women expecting a first and perhaps only child. The hidden assumption is that vaginal birth carries more risk for the baby than cesarean section, but in fact the opposite is true.
-Anger. "And where did you go to medical school?" "I can't take care of you if you don't trust me." Of course you should trust your caregiver, but that trust must be earned.
-Ridiculing your concerns, desires, opinions, or competency to participate in decisions about your care. "I see you've been reading those women's magazines." "You want natural childbirth? I think that makes about as much sense as natural dentistry."
-Patronizing you. "Don't worry about a thing; just leave everything to me."
-Vagueness. It's a bad sign when you can't pin a caregiver down enough to get at least ballpark estimates of personal statistics such as cesarean rates or percentages of women who give birth vaginally after a prior cesarean. It's also bad when the caregiver says you can do anything you want during labor and won't specify what situations might preclude that.
-Attempts to co-opt your partner. This may occur with male doctors and male partners. You'll know it is happening if the doctor addresses himself to your male partner and ignores you. The hidden message amounts to "You and I together will take care of the little woman," and it can be seductive to caring, protective, expectant fathers. This bodes ill for the labor, as the following story illustrates. A friend of mine doing labor support wandered out into the hall in time to overhear her client's obstetrician trying to talk her client's husband into persuading her client to agree to the episiotomy that she had refused. If not for my friend's pointing out that it was his wife's vagina and she had the right to decide whether it was cut, the obstetrician might have succeeded. Imagine how you would feel to suddenly find your husband and doctor in league against you. Conversely, acting as if your partner is a fifth wheel isn't good either.