It almost takes a village to have a healthy baby. As the mom-to-be, you're the leader, and you need to know who and how to select the right people to help you care for yourself and your baby before, during, and after delivery.
Your Choices for Prenatal Care and Delivery
There are many types of health care professionals who can provide prenatal care and help during delivery.
- Family medicine doctors can provide care for normal, uncomplicated pregnancies and deliveries.
- Obstetricians (OBs) or obstetrician/gynecologists (OB/GYNs) specialize in both normal and high-risk pregnancies.
- Maternal-fetal medicine (MFM) specialists, or perinatologists, specialize in complicated and high-risk pregnancies.
- Midwives are nurses or trained health professionals who care for healthy women with normal pregnancies. They usually specialize in natural childbirth that attempts to minimize medications and medical interventions.
- Doulas are non-medical, trained professionals who support and help you during labor or before and after childbirth.
How to Choose the Best Provider for Your Needs
Finding the best providers for you depends on your health, your baby's health, and your preferences for care and delivery. As you meet with potential providers, discuss:
- Your current health
- Your risk for a high-risk pregnancy
- Your personal preferences, such as whether you want to give birth at home or without medical intervention or pain medications
- Whether you already have a family doctor or OB/GYN you are comfortable with
- Where you want to deliver your baby and whether your provider has admitting privileges there
- Whether the provider is covered by your insurance
How Your Team Works Together
Pregnancy care is often a team effort, with providers contributing their own expertise.
- OBs and family doctors will work with nurse practitioners, nurse-midwives, dietitians, and other professionals during prenatal visits. You may have one professional to give you exams or tests, and another to teach you about pregnancy and childbirth or counsel you about good nutrition and health habits.
- If your OB is in a group practice, you may see different OBs during your routine visits. It's helpful for them to get to know you, since one of them may deliver your baby if your doctor isn't available.
- Midwives in private practice often provide all routine prenatal care, consulting with an OB when necessary. They may team up with a second midwife or doula during labor and delivery.
- Midwives, family doctors, and OBs will consult with an MFM specialist if you or your baby develops conditions that put your baby at risk. An MFM specialist may co-manage your care if needed.
- In the delivery room, hospital nurses, anesthesiologists, and other staff may be involved in your care.