Updated: Sep 12, 2020
When planning a pregnancy (or embarking on an unexpected one), one of the first things you’ll need to tackle is deciding on a care provider. This is an important task - after all, it will play a huge role in how your pregnancy journey unfolds.
When I first found out that I was pregnant, I immediately started thinking about who I should choose to be my care provider. I wasn’t really sure of what my options even were. I am by no means a medical professional, but I’m hopeful that by sharing what I learned throughout my experience in finding a great care network, you will be able to find the right fit for you.
Here are 5 steps you can use to guide you to a care provider that will give you the best possible experience for your unique pregnancy.
1. Think About What You Want Out Of Your Pregnancy.
So obviously, you want a baby out of this pregnancy, but what else specifically are you looking for throughout your pregnancy experience? What do you envision your care being like, and ultimately, what are you hoping for during birth?
If you know what you’re hoping for, you’ll have some guidance in choosing a care provider that aligns with those hopes as much as possible.
Make a list of the key elements you want to be part of your pregnancy and birth experiences.
In my own case, I wanted to have regular prenatal appointments with someone who felt trustworthy to me, listened to my concerns, and would take the time to treat me like a real person instead of just another patient. I wanted as little extra/unnecessary medical procedures as possible, and for my personal preferences for birth a natural birth to be honored.
What do you want? How do you feel about how often you’d prefer to have ultrasounds? What would make you feel safe and comfortable with your care provider? How do you hope to manage pain in labor? If you have specific hopes and dreams for your pregnancy and birth, you can find a care provider who will back you. Knowing what you want from the start will make it that much easier to find someone who’s going to be on your side from start to finish.
2. Investigate Your Insurance Policy.
It would be nice if we lived in a world where our options were truly endless, but with many things in life, that is just not the case. Choosing a care provider is no exception. You will probably be at least somewhat limited by your health insurance policy.
Since you probably don’t want any financial surprises down the road, call your insurance company to check out what your options are on their end, before falling head over heels for a particular provider.
You may also be able to log onto your health insurance company’s website to search for providers in your area. While you’re at it, do your research on what exactly is covered by your insurance policy in terms of prenatal visits, birthing, and possible extended care for you and/or baby afterwards.
Some policies may require you to call in before getting certain procedures done, or before heading into the hospital to give birth. Again, if you don’t want any surprises popping up last minute, it would be a good idea to check now.
3. Research Facilities & Providers.
Once you’ve found out what is covered by your health insurance, and which providers may be potential options for you, do some research on the hospitals, birthing centers, and individual providers you are considering.
If you have friends or family members who have had babies recently, ask them about their experiences with their providers and birthing facilities. If some of these are also options for you, you could potentially use their recommendations to guide your choice.
If you’re not so fortunate to have trustworthy new mamas who are close to you, check out the websites of facilities you are considering. There are often virtual tours of birthing suites that you can check out, as well as missions statements, general information, etc. that can give you an idea of what the hospital is like and what they stand for.
Some hospitals are more supportive of breastfeeding than others, for example. So if that is something that’s a priority to you, look for whether they have lactation consultants and infants rooming in as the norm.
Also look into providers at those specific hospitals or birthing centers you’re considering. Read their bios and get an idea of what’s important to them, as well as what their educational background is like.
You may find that you have the option to choose between an OB-GYN and a Nurse Midwife. If you feel safer going the more medical route, or if you’re at higher risk for complications, you’ll probably want an OB-GYN doctor to take care of you. However, if you’re low-risk and you want a more natural, holistic approach to prenatal care and birth, consider a Nurse Midwife!
I chose a team of Nurse Midwives as my care providers during pregnancy. There are four of them, and I’ve gotten a chance to get to know each of them at my prenatal visits. I have chosen one of them for my birth, but any of the others may fill in if my chosen Midwife is off duty when I go into labor. I love knowing that we’re all on the same page when it comes to facilitating a natural birthing experience, while still having the security of delivering in a hospital in case additional medical interventions become necessary.
If this sounds like it may be a good fit for you, try to find a hospital near you with a Midwifery option! Keep in mind that it’s important to check the certifications of any Midwives you may choose to work with, as there are many different levels of educational and experiential backgrounds covered in the broad term “Midwife.” Make sure you’re fully comfortable with your care provider’s background ahead of time.
4. Compare Your Options.
Once you have some good options in front of you, make lists of possible pros and cons for each facility and care provider. For example, you may be debating between delivering at a hospital or in a birthing center. You might have an OB-GYN and a Nurse Midwife you like. Take some time to decide which options will work out best for you.
Think about location, too! How far do you really want to have to drive to get to your care provider’s office?
5. Make Your Decision & Adjust If Needed.
Last but not least, you will need to make a final decision. Well, it’s not exactly “final,” because you could decide to switch care providers if you’re not feeling a good fit after the first few prenatal visits.
If you do decide to switch, it’s better to do so earlier rather than later. You’ll want your care provider to have some time to really get to know you, your health history, and most of all how your pregnancy has been going. Following you through as much of your pregnancy as possible will help your care provider to know what’s best for you when it comes time to give birth.
Most important of all, you need to feel a strong sense of trust with your care provider. He or she will be guiding you through some pretty big decisions as you bring your child into the world. If you have trust, you’ll have an excellent experience with your care provider and know you picked the right one for you.
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