One of the most important decisions you’ll make when having a baby is choosing a maternity care provider. Pregnancy is a huge milestone in a woman’s life. And choosing maternity care, especially if this is your first baby, is an exciting, yet stressful, time. There are so many things to consider.
If your gynecologist is also an obstetrician, it means they can deliver babies and perform a C-section, if needed. It is likely you can continue seeing the same practitioner. But if you need to find a new maternity care provider, there are a few things to consider.
One of the most effective ways to find a good practitioner is to ask your family and friends who have been through the birthing process. Inquire about their experiences. Most people will have strong opinions about the quality of their care. In particular, seek out people who have had complicated pregnancies or births. Your primary care physician should also have recommendations for you. Compile the list of names and check your insurance to see if those doctors are covered by your policy.
Once you have narrowed your list of potential providers, make an appointment to see the top two or three. This first appointment is like an audition or interview.
Observe everything. How does the staff treat patients? Is there a long wait? Is the office clean? Do you have a good feeling about this doctor?
Sometimes doctors have a reputation for performing C-sections when they are not needed. Ask to see the doctor’s C-section rate.
Of course, a doctor isn’t your only option for prenatal care. Many women are choosing to use a midwife.
A midwife is specially trained in pregnancy and childbirth. These caregivers provide more personalized attention. Some women feel more comfortable with a midwife.
If you prefer minimal medical intervention, a midwife can be a great choice. In some cases, you can even give birth at home. Just remember that a midwife is not a doctor. If your pregnancy or childbirth runs into complications, you will still need to go to a local hospital.
Delivering the Baby
Your maternity care provider needs to be available when it is time for you to give birth. Your chosen caregiver should have no vacations scheduled near your due date.
Find out what happens if they are unavailable when you go into labor. Some ob/gyns work at a practice with other doctors. They may rotate being on delivery duty. If this is the case with your doctor, schedule some of your prenatal checkups with the other practitioners so you can get to know them better.
Find out about the reputations of the maternity wings at your local hospital. Check to make sure the doctor you choose has credentials to deliver at the hospital of your choice. It is always best to choose a hospital with a good neonatal care unit in case your baby is born prematurely. Get a tour of facilities.
While you are visiting, ask them which incidentals will be provided and which items you should pack in your hospital bag. You will need a comfortable robe, a change of clothes and other toiletries. Also, look at the postpartum recovery rooms. It may be a private or shared room. Make sure it fits your preference.
Find out what the hospital’s policy is regarding having your newborn stay in the room with you. Looking at all of these aspects will help reduce your anxiety about giving birth.
Giving birth is a thrilling, yet tumultuous, time in a woman’s life. Choosing a good maternity care provider will go a long way toward easing the process of having a baby.