Thursday, January 17, 2013
Posted by: Laura Morrison, MD, MPH
From the very beginning, pregnancy presents you with many choices. Whether it’s when to start trying to get pregnant, how to announce the news or which baby name will guarantee your child’s future success and happiness, a decision that often gets overlooked is choosing the right obstetrics provider. At Women’s Healthcare Associates, we are fortunate to be able to provide women with a wide range of choices to help you in the journey towards motherhood.
Ideally, you have already established care with a clinician who has discussed your preconception plans before you became pregnant. In addition to being up to date on vaccinations and taking prenatal vitamins, being healthy prior to pregnancy is one of the best things you can do for your baby. If that is not the case, and your primary care provider does not offer obstetric services that fit your needs, many women consult their friends and family. Don’t overlook their recommendations, as they know you well and likely have some experience themselves. However, be sure to research all of the possibilities. Often it’s more comfortable to see a provider with whom you are already familiar.
Obstetrician/Gynecologist (OB/GYN) or Certified Nurse Midwife?
Any clinician who provides obstetric care will possess some knowledge and experience in caring for women during their pregnancies, but their level of care can differ. Both OB/GYNs and certified nurse midwives support a woman throughout her pregnancy and delivery (and beyond). Certified nurse midwives specialize in caring for women with low-risk pregnancies. Obstetricians have the additional training and surgical skill set to deliver high risk pregnancies, as well as perform cesarean deliveries.
Your family, genetic and pregnancy history are important, because different obstetric care providers can specialize in different pregnancies. For instance, a strong family history of diabetes increases your risk of having gestational diabetes, which may put you at higher risk during your pregnancy. If you have had a cesarean section during a prior pregnancy, you may also want to see a provider who has experience with vaginal births after cesarean deliveries. Being aware of your history and risk factors will help guide you in choosing an obstetric provider that is appropriate for your needs.
Education and Certification
Obstetricians and certified nurse midwives are medically trained for their profession, so their education is among the most important things to look for. Be sure an obstetrics provider holds a degree from a reputable school and certification for their practice.
While specialty board certification is not necessary to deliver babies, all of the doctors at Women’s Healthcare Associates are board-certified in OB/GYN or, for those physicians who have recently finished their residency, will become board-certified within three years of joining our practice. Read more about why board certification matters to patients at the American Board of Medical Specialties’ web site. Similarly, all of our nurse midwives are certified through the American Midwifery Certification Board.
Geographical Proximity and Availability
Friends and family may recommend a wonderful obstetrics provider, but finding one near to you is essential—both for your safety and peace of mind. In the event of an emergency or after hours urgent questions about your pregnancy, you need to see an obstetrician or certified nurse midwife in a practice that can provide services around the clock. You usually can’t predict when you’re going to have an emergency or go into labor!
Group or Individual Prenatal Care
Group prenatal care, or CenteringPregnancy, has emerged as a preferred method of prenatal care for many women. The solidarity and community it provides have contributed to women feeling more prepared and satisfied with their prenatal care. Other studies have shown women who participate in CenteringPregnancy may have a decreased risk of preterm births and higher birth weights among preterm babies. If you’re interested in this new model of prenatal care, look for a provider who offers CenteringPregnancy.
Your pregnancy is exactly that: your pregnancy. An obstetrics provider will have vast experience in prenatal care, but ultimately he or she works with your needs and expectations. It’s helpful, then, to find a provider who respects your views on issues like genetic screening, natural birth and full-term deliveries.
Whatever type of provider you choose, at Women’s Healthcare Associates, you can be assured that we have someone who will fit your needs. We understand that every pregnancy experience is different, and we want to work with you to make yours the best and safest it can be. To find an obstetrics provider near you, click here, or contact us today!
Dr. Laura Morrison is a board-certified OB/GYN physician and surgeon who sees patients at the Peterkort South office of Women’s Healthcare Associates in Portland, Oregon. She received her master’s and medical degrees from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where she also completed her OB/GYN residency. Dr. Morrison is particularly interested in vulvar health, adolescent gynecology, preventive women's health and delivering babies.