There are more choices than most women realize in choosing the best fit in terms of prenatal care. If you already have a gynecologist who also works in obstetrics and you're happy with your doctor, that may be all there is to the decision making. For other women, choosing an obstetrician or a family doctor, or choosing whether to work with a midwife or nurse practitioner, can seem overwhelming. Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing and planning your prenatal care:
Remember that unless you are severely limited in your choices by your community, or if you have restrictive health insurance, you really are in charge and you can explore the options to choose the right fit. The most important thing is to find someone with whom you feel rapport and you have trust and confidence. It is also important to find someone who is philosophically aligned, or who is at least genuinely sympathetic to your wishes and intentions for your pregnancy and delivery. In order to do this, you'll need to get yourself clear on what it is you do want prior to searching and interviewing for prenatal caregivers.
Some things you may want to consider: How accessible is the physician or midwife? This includes the location of the office, how easy it is for you to get in touch with someone, get your questions answered, arrange (and change) appointments, etc. Is the entire office staff helpful, courteous and professional? If this is important to you, you'll want to evaluate how you are treated by the staff as well as the doctor or midwife. If you are restricted by insurance, you'll want to make sure that your insurance policy will cover the type of prenatal care you are seeking. Ask for referrals and investigate the reputation of the doctors and midwives you are considering. If you live in a large city, the choices can be incredible, so you'll want to utilize referrals and recommendations from friends and family to narrow your possibilities.
Don't overlook where you'll be having the baby. Some doctors or midwives may only deliver at certain hospitals or birthing centers, so you'll want to make sure that you feel comfortable with the place of delivery as well. Even if you would like to have a home birth, you'll want to find out which hospital you would be transferred to if an unforeseen problem arose, and make sure your chosen caregiver will either attend, or refer you to someone appropriate. Don't be afraid to ask for references, or if there are individuals you can talk to about their own birthing experience.
It may help you to write out your priorities and questions prior to beginning the search. This way you can interview and evaluate the physician or midwife based on your specific situation. Otherwise, during a tour or interview you may get caught up in the conversation or a marketing pitch and forget to get your questions answered.
Finally, don't overlook your gut reaction. If you are not limited or assigned a doctor by your insurance, you'll want to choose a caregiver you like and can work with. Since you will be seeing this person on a regular basis for the next several months and sharing a rather major experience in the birth of your child - you'll want to feel supported and well-cared for, as well as have your fears, wishes and concerns attended to.