Depending on your HMO or insurance carrier, you may have choices when it comes to choosing your healthcare provider for pregnancy. You can choose an obstetrician, a family practitioner or a certified nurse-midwife to oversee your prenatal care.
An obstetrician is a medical doctor or an osteopathic physician who specializes in the care of pregnant women, including delivering babies. He or she has completed further training in obstetrics and gynecology after medical school.
A family practitioner, sometimes called a general practitioner, often provides care for the entire family. Many family practitioners are experienced at delivering babies. If an obstetrician is not available in a community because it is small or remote, a family practitioner often delivers babies. If problems arise, your family practitioner may refer you to an obstetrician for prenatal care or delivery.
A certified nurse-midwife is a trained professional who cares for women who have low-risk, uncomplicated pregnancies and delivers their babies. These professionals are registered nurses (RNs) who have additional professional training and certification in nurse-midwifery. They are supervised by a physician and call him or her if complications occur.
A perinatologist is an obstetrician who specializes in high-risk pregnancies. Only about 1 in 10 pregnant women need to see one. If you have serious problems during pregnancy, you may be referred to a perinatologist. Or you may need to see one if you experienced problems with past pregnancies.
If you see a perinatologist, it still may be possible for you to deliver with your doctor. You may have to use a hospital other than the one you had chosen if the perinatologist will deliver your baby. This doctor may require specialized facilities or the availability of specialized tests for you or your baby.
Talk to Your Healthcare Provider
It's important to communicate freely with your healthcare provider so you can ask him or her anything about your condition. Your healthcare provider knows you, your history and what has occurred during this pregnancy. Always discuss your concerns with him or her!
Don't be afraid to ask your healthcare provider any question. He or she has probably already heard it, so don't be embarrassed. It's possible a situation is unwise or risky for you, so be sure to check even the smallest details. It's better to take time to get answers to all your questions than to wait until a problem develops.
How Often Will I See My Doctor?
After your first visit, you will be scheduled for visits throughout your pregnancy. In most cases, you will go every 4 weeks for the first 7 months, then every 2 weeks until the last month, then once a week. If you have problems during your pregnancy, you may have to visit more frequently.