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How to Choose the Best Provider for Your Needs

The term “health care provider” includes people, like doctors, midwives, and nurse practitioners (NPs), as well as the places where they work, like hospitals or birthing centers. Finding the best providers depends on your health, your baby's health, and your plans for care and birth. As you meet with potential experts, talk about:

  • Your health
  • Whether you have pregnancy complications or are likely to develop them
  • Whether you would rather avoid unnecessary medical care or pain medicines during birth
  • Your personal preferences about things such as:
    • Eating and walking while in labor
    • Positions for giving birth
    • Access to things such as a soaking tub, squat bar, or birth ball
    • Policies on taking photographs or videos
    • Whether the hospital follows best practices for breastfeeding
  • The hospital's C-section rate
  • Whether you already have a family doctor or OB/GYN you want to keep working with
  • Where you want to deliver your baby -- such as a hospital or birthing center -- and whether your provider is allowed to work with you there
  • Whether you will have a say over who can attend the delivery
  • Whether the provider is covered by your insurance

How Your Team Works Together

Pregnancy care is often a team effort. Each provider has something to contribute.

  • OBs and family doctors often work with nurse practitioners, nurse-midwives, dietitians, and others during prenatal visits. One expert may examine you. Another may teach you about pregnancy and childbirth. And still another may give you advice about what to eat and other health choices.
  • If your OB is in a group practice, you may see different OBs at your visits. Any one of them may deliver your baby if your doctor isn't available. Consider whether you are comfortable with all the providers in the practice. You may not have any say in who attends your birth when the time comes.   
  • Midwives in private practice often do all routine prenatal care. They consult with an OB when necessary. They may team up with a second midwife during labor and delivery.
  • Midwives, family doctors, and OBs will consult with an MFM specialist if you or your baby have any complications. An MFM specialist may co-manage your care if needed.
  • At the birth there may be other experts in your care, including nurses, anesthesiologists, and other staff.