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Choosing a Health Care Provider for Your Pregnancy and Childbirth

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How Do I Choose a Health Care Provider for Pregnancy?

Choosing a health care provider for pregnancy depends on your level of risk for pregnancy complications. If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, or a history of previous pregnancy complications, are younger than 18 or 35 and older, you should seek care from a health care provider experienced in treating women with your type of medical condition, such as an OB/GYN or perinatologist. If you are at low risk for complications, your family practitioner or a nurse midwife may be right for you.

Once you decide the type of provider that best suits your needs, you will need to select one person in particular. You may want to schedule an introductory visit to meet with the health care provider you are considering and determine if you feel comfortable with him or her. Here are some questions to ask during your meeting:

  • How long have you been in practice?
  • When and where did you receive training?
  • Are you board-certified?
  • Do you have professional or patient references?
  • Have you had any problems with your medical practice? To get this information, contact your state medical licensing board.
  • What are your general philosophies about pregnancy, labor, and delivery? Think about how they fit in with your own beliefs.
  • How many babies do you deliver per week?
  • What is your cesarean delivery rate?
  • How many children do you have?
  • Are you in a group practice? If so, will I see every provider with whom you rotate during my doctor visits? Do I have a choice about whom I see and who delivers my baby? Note: If you choose a health care provider who belongs to a group practice, usually all the members of the group will see you during your pregnancy and one of them will be there for the delivery.
  • Who will I see at each appointment?
  • Will you be in town around my due date? Note that there are no guarantees that a specific health care provider will deliver your baby since no provider is available 24 hours a day; make sure you know the other providers in the practice or the providers with whom the doctor shares delivery responsibility.
  • If I have a question, who do I call? Who responds to the calls? Do you accept questions via e-mail?
  • Am I allowed to write a personal birth plan? Will it be respected? A personal birth plan is a written agreement between you and your doctor as to how your baby will be delivered. It gives the parents more of a role in the decision-making process; however, the plan is no guarantee that your birthing process will go as planned, because complications can arise. If there are problems, your doctor will make decisions based on what is safest for you and your baby.
  • What is your policy on inducing labor if I go beyond my due date?

Another important thing to consider when selecting a health care provider is where you want to deliver. If you have a certain place in mind, you need to make sure that person has the appropriate privileges at that facility so he or she can deliver your baby there.

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