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Tips to help you choose a pregnancy care provider

When you're pregnant, or trying to get pregnant, you want a provider who will support and understand you, as well as provide expert medical care. So how do you decide which type of pregnancy care provider is right for you? 

Here are some things to consider:

  1. Obstetrician. Obstetricians are medical doctors who specialize in pregnancy. They've received extensive training—four years of medical school and four years of residency — and passed exams given by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Since they have a focused medical practice, they have a lot of knowledge about pregnancy care. Obstetricians can work with women who have any type of pregnancy — from a routine pregnancy and delivery to high risk pregnancy. Obstetricians are also surgeons and can perform a Cesarean delivery if needed.
  2. Family medicine. Some family medicine doctors also specialize in obstetrics. Their training involves four years of medical school and three years of residency. One of the reasons a patient may choose a family medicine doctor for pregnancy care is that the doctor will also provide care for the baby after delivery. This way, the mother and the baby have the same doctor. Family medicine doctors will refer women to an obstetrician or perinatologist, if additional expertise or if a Cesarean delivery is needed.
  3. Nurse midwife. Nurse midwives typically have completed two to three years of advanced training in midwifery care. Nurse midwives are skilled in blending complementary therapies with conventional medicine.
  4. Perinatologist. Perinatologists are obstetricians who receive three additional years of training in high-risk pregnancy. They are often consulted when a woman has a high-risk pregnancy.
  5. Health history. Make sure your provider has experience caring for someone with your health history (high blood pressure, diabetes, epilepsy, heart disease, etc.) and other factors such as your age and any previous pregnancy complications or concerns.
  6. Communication. You'll be spending a lot of time with your pregnancy care provider and you should feel comfortable asking questions and communicating your preferences.
  7. Delivery options. Consider where the provider delivers and if the location and services are right for you.

What matters most is you. It's important to find a provider who you feel comfortable with, provides the right care for you and makes you feel involved in your care decisions.

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