Pregnant, Now What? A Guide to Choosing Your Best Medical Provider

obstetrician shows pregnant patient sonogram

So, you just found out you're expecting, and suddenly, choosing a medical provider feels like a massive puzzle. We get it – it’s a big deal! Quick disclaimer: we’re not doctors, just your virtual big sisters sharing our nuggets of wisdom.But, we've got some thoughts on picking the perfect partner for your pregnancy journey – let's dive in!

To start, let’s take a moment to recognize that this is a choice not everyone gets to make. According to the March of Dimes, more than 2.2 million women of childbearing age live in maternity care deserts that have no hospital offering obstetric care, no birth center and no obstetric provider. Yes, sidebar: the US healthcare system is in dire need of a fix, but we're hopeful for innovative solutions like telesupport and mobile maternity units working to address this challenge.

But if you do happen to be in the driver’s seat of making this decision, where to begin?

Start Here When Choosing a Medical Provider for Pregnancy:

  1. Insurance Hunt: Grab your detective hat and start with your insurance. Prenatal, delivery, and postnatal care are essential, and going out-of-network can hurt your wallet. Check your insurance portal or platforms like ZocDoc to filter for providers on your plan.
  2. OB or Midwife? Decisions, Decisions: Ever thought about whether you want an obstetrician or a midwife? Yeah, neither did I until after my first delivery. Watch "The Business of Being Born" for an eye-opener. Then, explore both – and note that many midwives also take insurance.
  3. Comparing Like a Pro: Online reviews are gold, but don't get blinded by stars. Dive into the comments – what's the real scoop on bedside manner, support staff, and wait times? Friends and colleagues in you area can also be your secret agents here; get their real-talk takes.

Remember, you're a consumer with power. Reflect on your vibe, your wishes, and your non-negotiables. Dream up your birth experience and stance on interventions. You have the right to ask questions. If you've already chosen a doula, tap into their wisdom on providers to lean towards or steer clear of.

Ready for the provider speed-date? Find out if your top choices will offer initial consults before you actually book your first appointment.

Here are some questions to explore in your first chat:

1. What is your philosophy on childbirth, and how do you approach prenatal care and labor and delivery?

2. How do you feel about interventions during childbirth, such as epidurals, inductions, and episiotomies? How do you support those who want to minimize medical interventions?

3. What is your standard schedule for prenatal visits, and how often will I see you during my pregnancy?

4. How do you handle communication between appointments, especially if I have questions or concerns?

5. Can you discuss your views on cesarean sections and under what circumstances you might recommend one? 

6. Where do you have delivery privileges, and which hospitals do you work with? 

7. What is your preferred hospital’s approach to birth plans? C-section rate? Approach to the involvement of a support team, such as a doula?

8. What kind of postpartum support and follow-up care do you provide?

9. How do you handle communication between visits? How about after-hours calls or emergencies?

10. Why did you get into this career? What’s your favorite part about it?

Lastly, feel out that personal connection. Trust your instincts–and those of your partner if applicable–because feeling comfortable and supported by your healthcare crew is key. After all the research, make a choice that aligns with your vibe. And with your medical provider roots laid, you get to move on to the decisions of supporting yourself with holistic care providers!

Now explore your non-medical care team on Nessle!
Carly B

Carly B

Carly is a postpartum doula and Certified Lactation Consultant (CLC) based in the West End of Richmond, Virginia.