As an expecting mother, you have a lot of choices to make about how you want to deliver your baby. What doctor should I choose? Should I have a natural birth? Do I want to give birth at home or in a hospital? Here is some information to help you make a few of these choices.
Choosing the Right Care Provider
Good prenatal care is vital to a healthy pregnancy. Let’s look at some of your primary options:
- Obstetrician/Gynecologist (OB/GYN): An obstetrician is a doctor who specializes in the care of women through pregnancy, labor and delivery. This practice is generally referred to as OB/GYN, and also typically includes gynecology. Women with other medical conditions or prior pregnancy complications may want to choose an experienced OB/GYN. These doctors generally perform deliveries in a hospital setting.
- Primary care physician: A primary care physician, often a family practitioner, has completed training in several schools of medicine, including obstetrics. Some can provide full prenatal care and attend to deliveries, while others may recommend an OB/GYN or a nurse/midwife. Deliveries performed by a primary care physician generally occur in hospitals.
- Midwives: A midwife may perform many of the same functions as an obstetrician—but only in a non-surgical environment. Many midwives have a nursing degree, but others may be certified without one. Midwives can be great for guiding a low-risk pregnancy, though an OB/GYN may have to be seen for certain complications. Many midwives can deliver in a variety of settings, including hospitals, homes or special birthing centers.
- Doula: A doula is a trained labor companion, primarily there to offer emotional and physical support during labor. They can also be involved throughout the pregnancy if desired, and can offer support and advice after the birth.
- Birthing partner: Similar to a doula, this is often a family member or friend who provides support and comfort through labor and delivery.
Where to Deliver Your Baby
More women are able to choose where they give birth now than ever before. While it’s important to remember that there might be circumstances that prevent you from finalizing a location until delivery is imminent, you do have a few options:
- Hospital: The majority of babies born in the United States are delivered in a hospital, and more and more midwives are delivering in hospitals as well. Many families feel more comfortable with access to the technology and professional skill present in a hospital during a birth. Hospitals may also hold some restrictions for labor and birth techniques, however—you can ask your doctor about these policies and guidelines.
- Birthing center: Free-standing birthing centers often have midwives as the only providers. In some situations, obstetricians are willing to do deliveries at birthing centers within hospitals. Birthing centers have fewer restrictions on birthing techniques and allow more freedom for labor. Birthing centers are great for low-risk pregnancies and women seeking a low-intervention birth. Be sure to get in touch with representatives of a birthing center in advance to discuss your preferences.
- At home: Through most of history, home births were the only way babies were delivered. Some women feel more comfortable in this environment, though extra responsibilities do come with it, including education about the risks and the providing the ability to transport the mother to a hospital if a complication arises. Midwives are usually the healthcare providers on hand for home births, which are not recommended for high-risk pregnancies.
For help creating your delivery plan, speak to your primary care doctor or family practitioner.
The obstetricians/gynecologists, nurse practitioners and certified nurse midwives at Revere Health OB/GYN provide a full range of healthcare services to women throughout all stages of their lives including; puberty, child-bearing years, menopause, and beyond.
“Birthing Options and Doctors.” HealthLine. https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/birthing-options#overview1
“Birthing Choices: Health Care Providers & Birth Locations.” American Pregnancy Association. http://americanpregnancy.org/labor-and-birth/birthing-choices/