Choosing your prenatal care provider
Prenatal care is medical care you get during pregnancy. At each visit, your prenatal care provider checks on you and your growing baby. The first step in getting prenatal care is choosing your provider.
Who can you go to for prenatal care?
You can choose who your prenatal care provider is. These kinds of providers can take care of you during pregnancy and deliver your baby:
- An obstetrician (also called OB) is a doctor who has special education and training to take care of pregnant women and deliver babies. About 8 in 10 pregnant women choose an obstetrician as their prenatal care provider. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists can help you find an OB in your area.
- A family practice doctor is a doctor who can take care of every member of your family. A family practice doctor can take care of you before, during and after pregnancy and can deliver your baby. The American Board of Family Medicine can help you find a family practice doctor in your area.
- A midwife is a health care provider who has special education and training to take care of women of all ages, including pregnant women. Make sure your midwife is certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) or the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM). Certified nurse-midwives (also called CNMs) and certified midwives (also called CMs) are certified through AMCB. Certified professional midwives (also called CPMs) are certified through NARM. The American College of Nurse-Midwives can help you find a midwife in your area. The National Association of Professional Midwives also provides information on midwives.
- A family nurse practitioner (also called FNP) is a nurse with special education and training to take care of every member of your family. An FNP can take care of you during pregnancy and can deliver your baby. The American Association of Nurse Practitioners can help you find an NP in your area.
- A women’s health nurse practitioner is a nurse with special education and training to take care of women of all ages, including pregnant women. The American Association of Nurse Practitioners can help you find a women’s health nurse practitioner in your area.
- A maternal-fetal medicine specialist is an OB with special education and training to take care of women who have high-risk pregnancies. If you have health conditions that may cause problems during pregnancy, your prenatal care provider may want you to see a maternal-fetal medicine specialist. The Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine can help you find a specialist in your area.
What should you look for in a prenatal care provider?
Choose a health care provider who makes you feel comfortable and who listens to you. Make sure his office and the hospital or birthing center where he delivers babies is close to where you live. Talk to friends and family to find out who their prenatal care provider is.
Think about these things when you’re choosing your provider:
- Is the provider covered by your health insurance?
- Have you heard good things about the provider? Is she recommended by your friends or family? How does your partner feel about her as your prenatal care provider?
- Do you prefer to see a man or a woman provider? How old to you want the provider to be? Does he explain things clearly?
- Is the office easy to get to? Do the office hours fit into your schedule? Is the office staff friendly and helpful?
- Who takes care of phone calls during office hours? Who handles them after hours or in an emergency? Do you have to pay if your provider spends time with you on the phone?
- Is the provider in group practice? If yes, will you always see your provider at prenatal care appointments? Or will you see other providers in the practice? Who will deliver your baby if your provider’s not available when you go into labor?
- What hospital or birthing center does the provider use? What do you know about it? Is it easy for you to get to?
Last reviewed: December, 2014