Choosing a Health Care Provider for Pregnancy

Choosing a practitioner to care for you throughout your pregnancy is an important decision. The person you choose needs to be a good fit and you need to feel comfortable with him or her. Your basic choices are an obstetrician or a midwife.

Another consideration is whether you prefer one gender over the other. Some women feel more comfortable with another woman. If the woman has children, this can add to the comfort level. Keep in mind that all doctors receive the same training and having been through childbirth doesn’t guarantee good bedside manner.

An obstetrician specializes in pregnancy and childbirth. Some treat high risk pregnancies, while others do not. Nearly all deliver babies in a hospital setting. When you choose an OB, the doctor generally takes the lead in decisions regarding your health care during pregnancy and delivery.

A midwife can be a certified nurse, a registered nurse practitioner or simply receive training as a midwife. Most midwives treat only low risk women. If you encounter an emergency in any stage of pregnancy or during labor, you will be transferred to a doctor for care. Midwives deliver in birthing centers, hospitals and oversee home births. You have more choices in where you can deliver your baby.

Regardless of whether you choose an OB or a midwife, there are some questions you should ask. The answers to these questions are a good indication of the philosophy of the provider and the care you will receive. You want a provider who thinks about labor and birth in the same way you do. Read about childbirth before interviewing a practitioner to help you understand your options.

Questions to ask:

* Ask questions about the typical labor and births with this practioner. Ask about c section rates, epidurals, induced labors and episiotomy. The lower the number, the better. * Ask about other interventions during labor, such as IVs, food and drink, breaking the water, continuous fetal monitoring and using pitocin. If these are things you want to avoid, but the practioner routinely uses them, he may not be a good fit for you. * Ask about freedom of movement and positioning during labor and birth. Keep in mind that midwives are often more open to alternative positioning during birth, such as birthing chairs and squatting positions than most OBs. * Ask who will be allowed in the room with you. Will it be just the coach, or are family, children and friends welcome? If the practioner prefers your husband only and you want half your family there, you may not have the experience you want. * Ask about their feelings on pain relief. Some encourage natural births, while others are big on medication. If the doctor tells you to try natural, but keep your options open, this may be a good choice, especially if this is your first labor. * Ask about how the person feels about alternative methods of pain relief, such as baths, music, positioning and massage.

Consider the answers to the above questions when making your final decision regarding a practitioner. The closer the doctor or midwives philosophy is to your own, the more likely you are to have the birth you want and feel comfortable with your care throughout your pregnancy.

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About Pattie Hughes

Pattie Hughes is a freelance writer and mother of four young children. She and her husband have been married since 1992. Pattie holds a degree in Elementary Education from Florida Atlantic University. Just before her third child was born, the family relocated to Pennsylvania to be near family. She stopped teaching and began writing. This gives her the opportunity to work from home and be with her children. She enjoys spending time with her family, doing crafts, playing outside at the park or just hanging out together.