How to choose a provider for your pregnancy
When you're expecting, you need a solid team of loved ones and medical specialists supporting you on your pregnancy journey. One of the most important people on your team is your provider, who will help with your prenatal care as well as your labor and delivery.
But there are so many providers out there. How do you choose one? To help you sort that question out, we've put together some pointers for finding the provider that's right for you.
What type is best for me?
Are you already seeing an obstetrician-gynecologist (OB-GYN) or family doctor you like? He or she may be able to care for you through your pregnancy too.
But perhaps you're starting from square one. In that case, you'll need to think about the type of provider you want. More than one type of provider can offer prenatal care. For example:
OB-GYNs specialize in women's health, which includes caring for pregnant women and delivering babies.
Family doctors specialize in the health of the whole family. They can care for women before, during and after normal pregnancies. And they can care for the baby after birth.
Certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) are nurses with advanced training in caring for women with normal pregnancies.
Maternal-fetal medicine subspecialists have additional training in caring for women with high-risk pregnancies, such as women with diabetes.
Once you settle on the type of provider you want, it's time to crowdsource some suggestions. You might try asking:
- Your primary care doctor for recommendations.
- Your friends and family for providers they liked in the past.
- Your health insurance for a provider list.
You may get several suggestions this way. Next, you can start to narrow down your search.
Ask them questions
Once you find a provider who you think you may want to pursue, you should schedule a time to talk with them.
You need to get to know the provider a little better and find out how they feel about things that matter to you. Asking the following types of questions can help you decide if you'll be a good match:
- What insurance do you accept?
- What are your fees and office hours?
- Do you have an after-hours number I can call in an emergency or if I have questions?
- Who will deliver my baby if you're not available?
- What are your views on pain relief, fetal monitoring, episiotomy and C-sections?
- Who can be in the room with me during delivery?
When asking questions, consider the provider's style of care. For example, do you want your provider to take charge most of the time? Would you prefer to make as many of your own decisions as possible? Or do you want your provider and you to make decisions together?
Pro tip: No matter what questions you ask, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that you write them down so you won't forget to ask them.
Feeling a connection?
As you talk with the provider, consider how comfortable you feel with that person. Are they a good listener? How's the rapport? Is there a foundation you could build on from here?
Go ahead and listen to your heart too. It just might tell you when you've found the perfect match for you and your growing baby.
More pregnancy news
One thing your provider will likely recommend is taking a prenatal vitamin every day. Learn more about the health benefits of prenatal vitamins.
Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics; American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; Harvard Medical School