Early in pregnancy, you will need to find and choose a doctor to care for you during pregnancy, labor and delivery, and after the childbirth. You will also need to select the place where you want to give birth. The place where you live and the place where you want to give birth will have an influence on your selection of prenatal care provider.
As you will see your prenatal care doctor many times before you have your baby, you have to choose a right doctor. You have to make sure that the doctor or midwife you choose has enough experience and good reputation. Take care to choose a doctor or midwife who listens and pays attention to your problems and respects you. Before choosing, you must find out if the doctor or midwife can deliver your baby in the hospital or birthing center chosen by you.
The following are the specialist doctors that care for pregnant women:
- Obstetrician (OB): Obstetricians are medical doctors who specialize in the care of pregnant women and in delivering babies. These doctors are also trained in surgery so they are also able to do a cesarean delivery. Women who have health problems or are at risk for pregnancy complications should see an obstetrician.
- Obstetrician/Gynecologist (OB/GYN): OB/GYN doctors are specialized in both obstetrics and gynecology. They are trained in women’s health including reproductive health, pregnancy, and childbirth. OB/GYN doctors are also trained in surgery. They can take care of any problem you have along with your pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum care. Women who have health problems or are at risk for pregnancy complications should choose an OB/GYN.
- Family Practice Doctors: These doctors provide care for the whole family through all stages of life. Many family doctors provide care during pregnancy, labor and delivery, and after the childbirth. Some family doctors provide prenatal care and have an OB or midwife care for you during labor and childbirth. Please be in the knowledge that most family practice doctors cannot perform cesarean deliveries.
- Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM): CNMs are trained to provide pregnancy and postpartum (the period after childbirth) care. A CNM is a good option for healthy women at low risk for problems during pregnancy, labor, or delivery. A CNM is educated in both nursing and midwifery. Most CNMs practice in hospitals and birth centers. All CNMs should have a back-up plan with an obstetrician in case of a problem or emergency.
- Certified Professional Midwife (CPM): CPMs are trained to provide pregnancy and postpartum care. A CPM is a good option for healthy women at low risk for problems during pregnancy, labor, or delivery. A CPM is required to have experience in delivering babies in home settings because most CPMs practice in homes and birthing centers. All CPMs should have a back-up plan with an obstetrician in case of a problem or emergency.
Request your primary care doctor, friends, and family members to recommend a suitable doctor to care for your pregnancy. Your primary care doctor is best placed to recommend a suitable doctor, as he/she knows your health status.
Consider the following things while choosing a prenatal care doctor:
- Gender and age
- Office location and hours
- Whether he/she will always see you personally during office checkups and delivery
- Who covers for the doctor when he or she is not available
- Where you want to deliver
- How the doctor handles phone consultations and after-hour calls