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Choosing An OB

You’re pregnant – time to choose an Ob-Gyn. There are many types of birth professionals available to help you through your pregnancy and delivery.

An obstetrician/gynecologist is a physician with 4 years of special training for pregnancy, delivery and specifically women’s health. This person should be board certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

There are also high-risk obstetricians which are board certified maternal-fetal medicine specialists. They are also known as perinatologists. They are required to complete both a 2-3 year fellowship in high-risk pregnancies as well as a standard obstetrics residency. High-risk ob’s deliver babies and are as consultants.

If you haven’t gone to the OB route yet and are happy with your family practice physician, this is also an option. Some people and families have spent years with the same doctor for their general medical care. You may feel more comfortable with a person who has experienced your entire medical history. This person is board certified in family practice medicine and will most likely refer you to an OB or maternal-fetal medicine specialist if complications arise through your pregnancy.

Along with an OB or physician, many women also have a nurse-midwife. This person is a registered nurse who is certified in caring for pregnant women. They are also licensed to perform deliveries. They typically work with your doctor and refer to specialists for complications. This provides a more personal service, especially if you feel you need guidance for a first pregnancy.

There’s also many new smartphone apps if you want to get more technical and up on your OB-language before you begin interviewing.

Some general questions for the interview process:

  • Am I comfortable with this person? Do I have confidence in them to deliver my baby safely? Make sure this comfortability extends to all people in the practice. Discuss the philosophy of the practice.
  • How many practitioners are in the practice? Do you want a group or solo practice? You should feel comfortable with any of them delivering your baby on the day of, in case your particular doc is not available.
  • Ask about their policy for after-hours emergencies and problems. Can you phone them on evenings and weekends in emergency?
  • What is the hospital and birthing center like? Do they have a labor and delivery suite equipped to handle problems that may arise?
  • Is an anesthesiologist on site 24 hours a day?
  • Can the hospital provide you with epidural anesthesia for pain control? What other options are available for pain management if you don’t want to go that route?
  • Are you allowed to keep the baby in your room after delivery? Are accommodations available for your partner to stay with you during your postpartum hospitalization?
  • What specialists are close by? In the case of infants who are born early or who have other medical problems.
  • Will my insurance cover the costs of this doctor?
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Speaking of Marriage

Winifred M. Reilly, M.A., MFT

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