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Choosing your Health Care Provider for Pregnancy

The person you choose for your health care during pregnancy will make a big difference in the type of childbirth you have.

The nature of your pregnancy may dictate which type of health care provider is best for you. The nature of your pregnancy is determined by your age, the outcomes of your past pregnancies, and health conditions that you have.

To find the right health care provider, start with the steps listed below:

  • Ask family and friends for recommendations.
  • Consult with your regular doctor and other medical professionals.
  • Contact your county medical society for a list of the providers in your area.
  • Contact the hospital you prefer and find out who its maternity care providers are.

Questions to Ask Yourself when Looking for a Health Provider

  • Is the health care provider's office a convenient distance from your home or work?
  • Can the health care provider deliver your baby at a particular hospital or birthing center?
  • Does the health care provider work in a solo or group practice?
  • Who will replace your health care provider if he or she isn't available in an emergency or when your labor begins?
  • How much do the health care provider's services cost?
  • Is the cost of the health care provider's services covered by your insurance company?
  • What level of expertise does your pregnancy require?
  • Does the health care provider have experience in the level of expertise you need?

What is a Family Physician?

A family physician provides care for the whole family through all stages of life, including pregnancy and birth. Family physicians are trained in various fields of medicine, including obstetrics, pediatrics, internal medicine, gynecology and surgery. Training and experience qualify them to manage most pregnancies, including minor surgical procedures for vaginal delivery. If you are interested in a Caesarean delivery, some family physicians perform Caesarean births, but most do not.

Family physicians may work solo, or they may be part of a larger group practice that includes nurses and other medical professionals.

What is a Obstetrician-gynecologist?

Doctors who specialize in obstetrics and gynecology are commonly referred to as ob-gyns. Ob-gyns serve as the main health care provider for many women

Ob-gyns are trained to:

  • Give prenatal care
  • Deliver babies
  • Take care of women in general, overseeing prevention and treatment of conditions affecting a woman's reproductive organs, breasts and sexual function.
  • Handle all phases of pregnancy, from preconception planning to postpartum recovery.

Ob-gyns usually work in a group practice that may include recent graduates from medical school, nurses, certified nurse-midwives, physician assistants, dietitians and social workers.

What is a Midwife?

A midwife provides preconception, maternity and postpartum care for women at low risk of complications during pregnancy. They usually take a lower-tech approach than obstetricians and other doctors typically do.

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