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Choosing a Healthcare Provider for Your Pregnancy


The birth of a child is an amazing, exciting, and exhausting time in a woman's life. You should carefully choose the healthcare provider who will help you and your family with this important event in your life.

What types of providers are licensed to deliver babies?

In many communities, obstetricians, family doctors, and nurse-midwives deliver babies. All are trained in the care of women during pregnancy and labor and delivery, and after birth. State medical licensing rules control who can deliver babies in your state.

  • An obstetrician is a medical doctor who has special training in the care of women.
  • A family doctor has special training in the medical care of children, men, and women. Family doctors can care for all members of a family at all stages of life.
  • A certified nurse-midwife (CNM) is a registered nurse (RN) who has special training in the care of healthy women and pregnancy. CNMs usually work with obstetricians and family doctors and deliver babies in hospitals and birth centers. If you have a medical problem during your pregnancy that may need special treatment, you may need to see an obstetrician.

How do I start my search for a provider?

If you have a health insurance plan, your choice may be limited to healthcare providers in the plan. Check the plan's list of primary care providers, obstetricians, and nurse midwives.


You should also ask friends, coworkers, or relatives for referrals. If you are moving to another city, ask your current provider to recommend someone in your new location. Some hospitals may give you names of healthcare providers to consider.


If you do not have health insurance, there are several ways to find and help to pay for the care you need during your pregnancy:

  • Find out if you are eligible for Medicaid.
  • Contact a social worker who helps pregnant women (a perinatal social worker).
  • Find a healthcare provider who will allow you to pay what you can at each visit, with further payments after the baby is born.
  • Find a women's health clinic staffed by healthcare providers who are in training and supervised by certified doctors.
  • See if there is a clinic in your area that will allow you to pay what you can afford.
  • Contact a local medical society or state regulatory agency for information, help, and advice.

What should I check?

Look for a healthcare provider who has an office and delivers babies at a hospital that is easy to get to. Contact the healthcare provider's office and ask if they are accepting new patients. Ask about office hours and appointments, payment policy, and insurance coverage.


Some healthcare providers might schedule an interview to so you can meet each other. While at the office, make sure that you feel comfortable with the office. Note how patients are greeted. Be prepared to discuss any special needs you may have. Ask questions such as:

  • What experience and training does the healthcare provider have in caring for pregnant women?
  • Which insurance plans do they accept?
  • Which hospitals do they use to admit patients? Is the hospital easy to get to?
  • How often does the healthcare provider deliver babies by C-section rather than vaginal birth? Also find out how often the provider does episiotomies or forceps births. What is their approach to pain control during labor and delivery?
  • May other family members come to office visits with you? May they be with you during your labor and delivery?
  • Does the healthcare provider practice alone, or is he or she part of a group? Find out if the provider will be on call for you or if he or she shares call with other healthcare providers. Will you have the chance to meet the other providers before the birth?
  • What is the healthcare provider's office procedure? Ask about scheduling appointments, both routine and when you are ill. How long might the typical wait in the office be? How do they handle emergencies?
  • Who provides care after hours, when the provider is out of the office or out of town?

After your visit, ask yourself:

  • Was I treated well?
  • Was it easy for me to talk to the healthcare provider about my concerns?
  • Were all of my questions answered?
  • Did I feel rushed or dismissed?

Trust yourself. Choose a healthcare provider you feel comfortable with. Ask yourself if this is the person you want to help you with your baby's birth. Only you know if the relationship is right for you.


Disclaimer: This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information provided is intended to be informative and educational and is not a replacement for professional medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.


HIA File preg5217.htm Release 13/2010

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