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How to Find the Right Prenatal Practitioner


Good prenatal care is essential during pregnancy, and that includes more than the right diet, vitamins and nutrition. Over the course of your pregnancy, you will have routine checkups with your practitioner to ensure you and your baby are healthy and growing. If you just found out you're expecting, waste no time in looking for the right practitioner. Here are some tips on how to choose one:

Pick a specialty

Practitioners fall into two separate categories: the medical doctor or the midwife. Both have similarities and differences. The medical doctor has a formal education in obstetrics and birth. He or she has been to medical school, completed a residency program and may have completed a three-year fellowship, as well. Midwives, on the other hand, have less formal training, but that does not mean they are any less competent when it comes to delivering your baby. Midwives are trained in all things pregnancy and birth. Some are certified nurses or direct-entry midwives. These practitioners specialize in low-risk pregnancies in healthy women. Some perform home births while others work in hospitals. With midwives, birth is considered a normal event, not a medical one. Although midwives take on similar roles as the medical doctor during birth, they cannot perform C-sections. Here are some things to consider when making the choice between a medical doctor or midwife:

  • Pain management: With midwives, especially in home births, pain relief leans toward natural remedies such as showers, massages, acupressure techniques and other homeopathic remedies. Women who birth in a hospital also have access to an epidural and other anesthesia.
  • strong>Your personal risks in pregnancy: An OB-GYN is trained more extensively to deal with all the medical complications that come with pregnancy like diabetes or breech babies. In addition, medical doctors have all the necessary medication and surgery supplies for women who have birth complications.
  • Support: Both practitioners provide various levels of support. While medical doctors are there to answer all your questions, midwives do a lot of counseling on nutrition, parenthood and the emotional changes that come before and after birth.
  • Place of birth: If you're looking to have a home birth, a midwife is the way to go because medical doctors only perform in hospitals. However, some women can give birth in a hospital with a midwife and medical doctor.

Both practitioners are regulated and licensed in all 50 states (except for lay midwives). However, there are differences in what is covered by the health care insurance provider. First, determine what kind of practitioner you want or need, and go from there.

The choosing process

The work doesn't stop after you decide on a practitioner type. Finding the right doctor or midwife comes next. This process isn't always easy. You want a practitioner you trust and are comfortable with. He or she will be delivering your baby, after all! Don't be afraid to meet with several practitioners until you find one that feels right. Some expecting mothers have specific preferences like gender or age, so take these attributes into consideration during your search. Plus, don't forget about location. Although some midwives come to the patient's house for checkups, a medical doctor does not. If you're choosing the latter, you want to make sure the doctor's office is accessible to you.

Choosing and finding the right practitioner for your growing family may not be a quick and easy process, so it's vital you start as soon as you find out you're expecting. The sooner you find one, the quicker you can start planning for your little bundle of joy.

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