- Your provider should be a main support partner for you and your baby!
- Know what provider may be best for you and your birth experience.
- Having a good relationship with your provider can make for a positive and fulfilling pregnancy!
For some expectant parents, finding a provider to see you through your pregnancy can be overwhelming. It’s one of the first decisions you’ll make, and it’s a big one.
Types of providers vary in training and practice beliefs. The type of provider you select should reflect the experience you want while matching your needs as well. Here are some things you’ll want to think about to get the ball rolling:
- How accessible is your provider?
- What’s their experience?
- Where do you want your delivery?
- What should you expect when your provider is away?
- How are after hour calls handled?
To make the best decision, it is important to be well informed. Consider researching all the ways you can deliver to be ready for your provider search. Ask friends and family about their experiences to help create an image of your ideal birth.
Your Provider Options
Your provider should be one of your greatest allies during your pregnancy. A good provider will ensure that you feel heard and supported through all stages of pregnancy. Mothers who are expecting should see their providers several times over the course of their pregnancy. Here’s a breakdown of the most common provider options to make your choice a little easier.
This is a medical doctor with special training in providing women with care at all stages of pregnancy and postpartum. This provider practices from a private office and hospitals. Obstetricians are trained in overseeing vaginal deliveries and surgical practices like cesarean deliveries (C-sections). Women who are at risk for pregnancy complications should consider an OB.
Maternal-Fetal Medicine (MFM) Specialists or Perinatologists
This is an obstetrician with even more training for high-risk pregnancies. You should consider seeing a perinatologist if you have experienced a complicated pregnancy, are expecting multiple babies at once, or if you have had or need to have a C-section. Often you will get a referral for an MFM or Perinatologist from your OB or midwife.
Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNM)
These providers have special training in providing women with care at all stages of pregnancy and postpartum. Nurse-midwives hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing, Master’s in midwifery and certification from the American College of Nurse Midwives. Many nurse-midwives practice in hospitals and birthing centers. Healthy women with low risk for problems, should consider a CNM. Nurse-Midwives usually work with obstetricians if complications occur.
Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
This is a nurse with specialized training to provider care for all members of your family. Some nurse practitioners (Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner [WHNP]) have focused training and education to care for women at all stages of life. Nurse Practitioners can sometimes be more accessible than physicians in rural communities.
Curious about doulas? Doulas are NOT providers, but they are very helpful! You can learn more about doulas here.
It is important to select a provider who can work with you to create a birthing plan and provide the experience you want for your pregnancy. Once you choose the type of provider that is best for you, here are some questions that can help narrow down your selection:
- Will they support your birth plan?
- Do they make you feel comfortable to ask questions or raise concerns?
- If you want a water birth, do they perform those?
- If you want a home birth, will they be able to deliver your baby?
- If you want a hospital birth, do they have the ability to deliver babies at the hospital of your choice?
- If your chosen provider is not able to attend your delivery, do you feel comfortable with another provider taking their place?
If you need assistance locating the provider of choice in your area, call the Georgia Family Healthline for a medical care referral, 1-800-300-9003. Operators are available Monday through Friday form 8 AM to 5PM.