The birth of a child is an amazing, exciting, and exhausting time in a parent’s life. You should carefully choose the healthcare provider who will help you and your family during your pregnancy.
What types of healthcare providers are licensed to deliver babies?
Medical licensing laws control who can deliver babies in your state. Family doctors, midwives, and obstetricians are trained in the care of women during pregnancy, during labor and delivery and after birth.
Family doctors have special training in family practice and can care for all members of a family at all stages of life. Some, but not all, give medical care during pregnancy.
A midwife is trained in the care of healthy pregnant women. A certified nurse-midwife (CNM) is a registered nurse (RN). A certified professional midwife (CPM) is also trained in the care of healthy pregnant women but does not have a nursing degree. Midwives usually work with obstetricians and family doctors. They may deliver babies at the hospital or a birth center and sometimes at home.
An obstetrician is a doctor with special training in the care of pregnant women. If you have a medical problem during your pregnancy that may need special treatment, you may need to get your care from an obstetrician instead of a family doctor or midwife.
How do I start my search for a healthcare provider?
Ask your primary care provider, friends, coworkers, or relatives for referrals. Some hospitals may give you names of healthcare providers to consider.
If you have a health insurance plan, check your plan’s list of family doctors, obstetricians, and midwives. If you do not have health insurance, there are several ways to find and help to pay for the care you need during your pregnancy:
Find out if you are eligible for Medicaid.
Contact a social worker who helps pregnant women.
Find a healthcare provider who will allow you to pay what you can at each prenatal visit. You may then keep making payments after the baby is born.
See if there is a clinic in your area that will allow you to pay what you can afford.
Contact your local medical society or state regulatory agency for information, help, and advice.
What should I check?
Look for a healthcare provider whose office is nearby and who delivers babies at a hospital or birth center that is easy for you to get to. Contact the provider’s office and ask if they are accepting new patients. See if you can set up a free visit to talk with the healthcare provider and see if you are comfortable with them. Note how patients are greeted in the office. Be prepared to talk with the healthcare provider about any special needs you may have. Ask questions, such as:
What experience and training do you have in caring for pregnant women?
Which insurance plans do you participate in? Do you offer payment plans?
Which hospitals or birth centers do you use?
How often do you deliver babies by C-section rather than vaginal birth?
What is your approach to pain control during labor and delivery?
May other family members come with me to my checkups? Can family members be with me during labor and delivery?
Do you practice alone, or are you part of a group? Will you be on call for me or do you share call with other healthcare providers? If call is shared, will I have the chance to meet the other providers before the birth?
How are appointments scheduled, both routine and when I am ill? How long might the typical wait in the office be? How do you handle emergencies?
After your visit, ask yourself:
Was I treated well?
Was it easy for me to talk to the healthcare provider about my concerns?
Were all of my questions answered?
Did I feel rushed or dismissed?
Trust yourself. Choose a healthcare provider you feel comfortable with. Ask yourself if this is the person you want to help you with your baby’s birth. Only you know if the relationship is right for you.
Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth. Last modified: 2014-02-07 Last reviewed: 2014-02-05
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Choosing a Healthcare Provider for Your Pregnancy: References
Cunningham, F., K. Leveno, S. Bloom, J. Hauth, L. Gilstrap, K. Wenstrom. Williams Obstetrics. 22nd ed. The Mcgraw Hill Companies, Inc. 2008. Accessed September 23, 2009 from http://www.accessmedicine.com.
Lockwood, C. Guidelines for Perinatal Care. 7th ed. AAP and ACOG. 2012.