Choosing a Care Provider for Your Pregnancy

Midwife, doctor or family practitioner?

Pregnant woman in hospital with nurse
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One of the things that amazes me most about people is that they normally do more research to find a new television than they will find a new care provider. This is a very important decision and should not be taken lightly.

Ideally, it would happen that you would select the provider before you got pregnant. In reality, this doesn't happen often, so get started as soon as your pregnancy is confirmed.

Types of providers available:

  • Perinatologist: This is a doctor specializing in high-risk pregnancy. Most pregnancies do not fall in this category. These physicians work in the hospital setting, usually in conjunction with a Level III nursery.
  • Obstetrician: This is a doctor who specializes in pregnancy, birth, and gynecology. They may or may not have high-risk patients. These doctors usually work in the hospital setting, although many are beginning to start up birth center practices, and a few do home births.
  • Family Practitioner: Another physician who specializes in family care, including pregnancy and birth. They usually work in combination with an Obstetrician for surgical cases. You will find them in the hospital, birth center, and home birth settings.
  • Nurse Midwife: This is a nurse with training in low-risk pregnancy and birth (About 90 of births fall into this category.). They work in conjunction with a physician. They may work in a home, hospital or birth center settings.
  • Midwife: This type of midwife may have special training in midwifery only. She is trained for low-risk women only. She may or may not work with a physician and usually practices home birth or birth center births.

Choosing someone to assist you during pregnancy and birth is vital to your experience. Before you can even think about the other person, you must first decide what you need from them.

Are you a person who wants to be lead by the hand through the pregnancy? Do you see your role as a partner with the care provider? Do you only want basic information or all of the information available? Should you be told what to do or be given the ability to make your own decisions? Do you want to be a patient or a client?

Thinking about what kind of information and assistance you want is very important. Some people would rather stumble blindly through pregnancy and birth with their care provider as a dictator. Others would prefer a guide.

Once you have decided upon what you are looking for in a care provider it is time to try and find that care provider. Begin by compiling a list of providers to interview (Unfortunately, this may be a limited list if you are on an insurance plan that only refers to a certain group.). No matter what the size of the list is, I would talk to other about this provider, call the local medical society and find out about complaints or awards in the files. Do your back ground work first.

Beware of choosing a provider based solely on referral from friends or relatives. Just because Aunt Suzie said that Doctor X and Midwife X were good doesn't mean you will like them.

This could mean that Aunt Suzie wanted a something for labor and the team was more than willing to grant, but that you might really wish to avoid.

Begin the interview process. Ask questions that are very important to you, feel this person out. Start gathering the questions to ask. Arrange an appointment for the interview only, explain that you are looking for a provider. Usually, these types of consultations are free, if not that is something to consider.

Does this person make you feel at ease? Do they want to meet you in their office or an exam room? Do they have a personality that is compatible with yours?

Are they willing to acknowledge your special requests? How do they feel about your partner's role? What do they expect from you? You can learn a lot of information from this interview.

When it is all over and done with select the provider that you felt had the best knowledge, attitude, and resources. You and your partner will be glad that you did later down the road.

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