Prenatal care, both in the form of medical care from a professional and taking good care of your body and health in between prenatal appointments, is a very important part of pregnancy. There are a lot of differences between different types of prenatal care, and it is a good idea to start thinking about your prenatal care options while trying to get pregnant, and definitely early on in pregnancy. What are your various options?
The majority of prenatal care in most developed countries, including the United States of America, is provided by a gynecologist/obstetrician, or OBGYN for short. Still, not all OBGYN prenatal care is created equally! Depending on your insurance, you will have several options. If you want to see an OB for your prenatal care throughout your pregnancy, your options may include:
- Receiving prenatal care in the hospital where you plan to deliver your baby.
- Seeing different rotating OBs at a group medical practice. You will probably see two or three doctors throughout your pregnancy, but get to know all of them at least a bit. One of these doctors will then usually deliver your baby.
- Seeing one OB through your gestation, who runs a solo practice. This will provide you with one on one care from the same person, and may feel more personal and familiar.
- Seeing both OBs and midwives in a combined practice, either on a rotating basis or for specific procedures like prenatal tests and ultrasounds. With such a practice, you may also be able to choose between having a midwife or an OB present at your delivery.
- Back-up OB care may be a preference for women who plan to deliver at home or in a birth center with midwives.
Some women exclusively see a midwife or midwives throughout their pregnancies. Like with OBs, midwives can be part of large midwifery practices or practice solo. There are also different kinds of midwives with different sets of skills, like Certified Nurse Midwives and Certified Professional Midwives. See What kind of midwife should you choose? for more information regarding this.