Getting early and regular prenatal care is very important for having a healthy pregnancy and baby. The first step in getting prenatal care is to choose your prenatal care provider. This is the medical professional who will care for you during your pregnancy.
You can choose either a doctor (physician) or midwife to take care of you during your pregnancy and to deliver your baby.
- An obstetrician (OB) is a doctor who specializes in the care of women during pregnancy, childbirth and recuperation from delivery. About 8 in 10 pregnant women choose obstetricians.
- A family practice doctor is a doctor with training in all aspects of health care for every member of the family. A family practice doctor can be your health care provider before, during and after your pregnancy, and your baby's doctor, too.
- A certified nurse-midwife is a registered nurse with advanced, specialized training and experience in taking care of pregnant women and delivering babies. Certified nurse-midwives are licensed to provide care before, during and after delivery.
- A maternal-fetal medicine specialist is an obstetrician with special training in the care of women who have high-risk pregnancies. If you have risk factors that could complicate your pregnancy, your prenatal care provider may refer you to a maternal-fetal medicine specialist.
Choose a health care provider who makes you feel comfortable and who listens to you. Questions you may want to consider include:
- Does the provider have a good reputation?
- Does the provider listen to you and take the time to explain things clearly and thoroughly?
- Are you comfortable with the gender and age of the provider?
- Does the provider make your partner feel comfortable, too?
- Is the office staff pleasant and respectful?
- Is the location of the office convenient? Do the hours fit your schedule?
- What hospital is the provider affiliated with? Does the hospital have a good reputation? Is its location convenient?
- Is the provider in a solo, group or collaborative practice?
- Will you always be seen by the same provider during your office appointments?
- Who covers for the provider when he or she is unavailable?
- Who handles phone calls during office hours? Does the provider charge for phone consultations? How are calls and emergencies handled after hours?
- Does your insurance cover this health care provider?