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6 Things To Consider When Choosing The Right Healthcare Provider For Your Pregnancy Journey

Posted July 25, 2022 by Ashley Ballester, M.D.

pregnant woman at doctors office

It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for: you’re pregnant! With so much to do to get ready for baby — purchase a crib, choose a name, install the car seat — where should you begin?

First things first: Choosing the right provider to partner with you on this magical 40-week journey should be a top priority on your to-do list. Having a strong relationship with your obstetrician (OB) or certified nurse midwife (CNM) is important in promoting a healthy pregnancy and delivery outcome.

Ask people you trust for recommendations — family, friends, co-workers and even your other healthcare providers. Then, check out your options more thoroughly by researching their credentials and patient reviews.

You also can set up an appointment with a prospective provider for a short interview. That way, you can ask questions specific to your circumstances and determine your comfort level with not only the provider, but also the office policies, staff and labor environment.

Having a baby is one of the most important health events in a person’s life. Summa Health offers 6 things parents should consider when choosing a healthcare provider for your pregnancy journey. Finding the right medical partner that is experienced and you’re comfortable with is essential in preparing you for all aspects of pregnancy and delivery.


1. Your health history

Thinking about your personal health history can help you better identify specific needs.

For example, if you have underlying conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes or epilepsy, or experienced complications in a previous pregnancy, you’ll want to find a provider that delivers at a hospital that can accommodate high-risk pregnancies. You may even need to be cared for by a maternal fetal medicine doctor (perinatologist), who specializes in high-risk pregnancies.

Even if you’re healthy going into pregnancy, you want to make sure you are prepared in case any conditions for you or your baby develop, such as low amniotic fluid, or fetal heart or lung conditions. Choosing a provider who has experience with pregnancy complications will improve health outcomes for you and your baby.


2. Labor environment

Laboring can be a very long, exhausting — yet exhilarating — process, and many pregnant individuals have specific ideas on how they want it to go. Make sure your provider and associated birthing center can accommodate your wishes.

Some things to consider for labor, include:

  • Support persons: How many support people can stay in your room with you while laboring? If you are considering having a certified doula present for your labor, does the hospital allow a doula to be present?
  • Labor environment: Does the laboring room offer various comfort options, such as a laboring tub or birthing ball? Is it quiet, private and can you play music?Can you request fewer interruptions or intermittent fetal monitoring?
  • Other options and services: Does the birthing center support immediate skin-to-skin contact with your baby once born? Can your partner cut the baby’s umbilical cord? Do they support breastfeeding, and are there lactation specialists available?


3. Type of Practitioner

The most common providers that individuals choose in their pregnancy journey are obstetricians or certified nurse midwives.

OBs and CNMs complete different levels of training. An OB/GYN goes through the training that a physician does, which includes medical school, residency and any specialized training needed. A CNM first becomes a registered nurse, then completes a graduate program and national certification exam to become a certified nurse midwife.

Both providers provide care throughout pregnancy and postpartum, as well as family planning and gynecological care. Should you need surgery to deliver the baby, such as a caesarian section, an OB is brought in to perform the surgery.

In cases of a higher risk pregnancy, you may be referred to see a maternal fetal medicine doctor (perinatologist). A maternal fetal medicine specialist has advanced training and experience in high-risk pregnancies and prenatal diagnosis and provides specialized care to manage certain complications that may arise during pregnancy.


4. Provider’s points of view

Look for a provider that shares your attitude about issues that are important to you. For example, if you wish to have a vaginal birth this time after a previous C-section, ask if your provider is supportive of exploring if you would be able to attempt a TOLAC (Trial of Labor of Cesarean).

You may also want to ask your provider’s point of view on:

  • Continuous electronic fetal monitoring
  • Episiotomies, perineal massage or the use of lubricating gel
  • Epidurals and other pain medications that are available to you during labor and delivery
  • Unmedicated vaginal deliveries

5. Provider’s personality

Pregnancy and childbirth are exciting, but they also can be stressful. So, you’ll want to make sure your provider’s personality fits well with yours. It’s important you feel comfortable discussing your concerns and troubles without feeling intimidated. Also, make sure you can communicate easily with your provider and you trust their advice.

Some other characteristics to consider include:

  • Is the provider willing to explain things carefully to you? Are they a good listener?
  • Are they responsive to your concerns?
  • Do they see you as a partner in you and your baby’s care?


6. Office policies and procedures

Before you choose your provider, consider the office policies and procedures to ensure they meet your expectations. For practical purposes, make sure the provider accepts your insurance and is in your network to avoid additional costs.

In addition, find out if your provider practices as a group. If this is the case, you may be expected to see another provider if your physician isn’t available when you need an appointment. What’s more, these providers most likely rotate on-call duty. Make sure to ask how the practice works with the birthing hospital so you are aware of how they work.

Another policy to consider is your provider’s admitting privileges. Most OBs and midwives only work in one hospital, so when you choose a care provider, you’re also choosing the place where you’ll give birth.

The hospitals in your area probably don’t all offer the same maternity services, so it’s important to know where you’ll deliver. For example, not all hospitals have neonatal intensive care units or easy access to neonatal specialists, or staff anesthesiologists on call 24 hours a day.

While you can’t predict what your situation will require, asking pertinent questions can give you an idea as to whether a provider is the right fit for you in your pregnancy journey — and save you the hassle and stress of switching providers in the middle of your pregnancy.

For more information, contact Summa Health’s childbirth experts by calling 234.312.5194 .


Options to Request an Appointment

If your situation is an emergency, call 911.