pregnancy doctor examines a prenatal patient at an obgyn appointment

8 Things to Consider When Choosing a Pregnancy Doctor

By Nicole Pajer
Reviewed by Alyssa Quimby, M.D.
November 17, 2023
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Found out you’re pregnant? One of the first things you should do is find a prenatal care provider and make an appointment.

The most common type of doctor for pregnancy is an ob-gyn (obstetrician-gynecologist). Family practice doctors and midwives can also provide prenatal care. The key is to find the right provider for your pregnancy and preferences.

Here are some important things to consider when looking for a prenatal care provider.

1. Choose a Pregnancy Doctor or Midwife You Trust

Already have a doctor that provides prenatal care? Do you think they could be a good doctor for your pregnancy? They might be the first person you consider.

Or if you’ve been pregnant before, the doctor or midwife you saw could be the right one to see again.

If possible, your ob-gyn, midwife, or family physician should be someone you see before you even get pregnant.

“You should ideally find a provider before pregnancy and see them for a preconception evaluation,” says Christine Noa Sterling, M.D., a board-certified ob-gyn in San Diego.

The provider can perform an overall health check, and tell you steps you can take to help your fertility and start pregnancy as healthy as possible. Doctors specializing in pregnancy, like ob-gyns and family doctors, can discuss any concerns that may need to be managed during your pregnancy.

2. Take Into Account Word-of-Mouth Recommendations

If you haven’t already seen a prenatal care provider, try asking others for recommendations.

Do you have a friend who recently had a baby? Ask her how she liked her doctor. A family member who is expecting? See if she recommends her midwife.

If people you trust like the doctor or midwife they had during their pregnancies, their prenatal provider could be a good fit.

You can meet with the provider to ask questions and see if they’re the right doctor for your pregnancy.

3. Know Whether or Not Your Pregnancy Is High-Risk

Woman talks to her prenatal provider about her high risk pregnancy.

A high-risk pregnancy means that the pregnant person and/or the fetus are at a higher risk of an adverse outcome. This type of pregnancy requires close doctor supervision.

There are many reasons a pregnancy can be considered high-risk. It’s usually because of a medical condition or another factor that can cause problems with the pregnancy.

If you’re high-risk, you need to find an ob-gyn or other doctor who has experience in monitoring and treating high-risk pregnancies. You may not be able to safely see a midwife.

In some cases, the pregnant person will need extra monitoring by a maternal-fetal medicine specialist, a pregnancy doctor who specializes in high-risk pregnancies.

“Your ob-gyn will often be the one to refer you to a maternal-fetal medicine specialist,” says Revere. A maternal-fetal medicine specialist will work with your ob-gyn throughout your pregnancy and will actively supervise a plan for your care.

Midwife vs. Doctor

Both midwives and doctors are trained in caring for pregnant people and delivering babies. One of the biggest differences between a midwife and a doctor is that a midwife doesn’t offer care for high-risk pregnancies.

“A certified nurse-midwife is a great option for low-risk patients, if one is available,” says Sterling. Low-risk pregnancy patients who are cared for by a midwife in labor have lower rates of c-section birth.

However, there are fewer midwives in the United States than ob-gyns, so some people don’t have access to midwifery care during pregnancy.

Learn more about choosing between a midwife vs. a doctor in this article: Ob-Gyn vs. Midwife: How to Choose Your Pregnancy Care Provider.

4. See What Prenatal Providers Are Available in Your Area

To find a pregnancy doctor or midwife in your area, try any these online directories of qualified prenatal care providers:

Read the provider’s online profile to learn more about their experience and education.

When choosing a doctor, it can be tempting to Google what you’re looking for, whether it’s “best obgyn for high risk pregnancy near me” or “female obgyn near me.” Online reviews may help you narrow your search.

But only you can decide if a provider is right for you. Don’t rely solely on reviews and instead, call the office to ask questions, or make an appointment to see a provider in person. Remember that you can change providers if it’s not the right fit.

5. Find Prenatal Care That’s Covered By Your Health Insurance

Prenatal care can be very expensive if it’s not covered by health insurance. Childbirth without insurance is also extremely expensive, so it’s important to understand your insurance plan and what it will and won’t pay for.

You may pay significantly less for your prenatal care if your provider is considered “in-network” for your health plan.

Many insurance carrier websites have a “find a doctor” search feature that will show you a list of providers that are in-network. From there, you can narrow your search down to ob-gyns, midwives, and/or family doctors for pregnancy.

“If you have Medicaid, you can call the office of your desired provider to ask if they accept Medicaid,” says Kristin Revere, a doula and owner of Gold Coast Doulas in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “This info can sometimes be found on a website as well.”

6. Convenience of Ob-Gyn or Midwife Office Location and Hours

“At the beginning of pregnancy, the prenatal visits are once a month and then go to once a week as the due date gets closer,” says Revere.

In other words, you’ll have lots of prenatal doctor appointments. Because the prenatal appointment schedule is so frequent, convenience is important.

Make sure you’ll be able to get transportation to your prenatal doctor visits, allow plenty of time for each visit, and keep track of upcoming appointments in a calendar or planner.

You should also check the office’s hours. Depending on your own schedule, you may need to find a prenatal care provider that offers early morning, evening, or weekend hours.

7. Decide Where You Want to Give Birth

Woman talks about her birthing plan with her prenatal care provider.

Where you deliver is a central part of your birthing plan. For example, you may be interested in a water birth, which isn’t available in some locations. Or you may want to deliver your baby at the hospital or birthing center down the street.

Double check to make sure your prenatal care provider can deliver your baby at your preferred location, if you have one.

“Most prenatal care providers work in one hospital, while some have privileges in multiple hospitals,” says Revere. You can call their office and ask which locations your doctor delivers babies in.

Many midwives only deliver at birthing centers, or do home births. If you need to transfer to a hospital, they’d have to transfer your care to a doctor. It’s important to find this out in advance and understand who all may be involved in your care.

It’s okay not to have a written birth plan yet, but knowing where you’ll deliver is an important early step.

8. Remember Your Unique Needs and Preferences

“My biggest tip is to make sure your provider is comfortable with your goals,” says Revere. For example, do you want an unmedicated birth? Are you trying for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean)? Find a doctor or midwife who is supportive of your birth plan and has had success with helping their patients with those goals.

It is also extremely important to find a prenatal care provider who makes you feel at ease. You should be able to freely ask questions and raise concerns about your pregnancy with your doctor.

“You want to have a relationship where you feel comfortable with them both personally and professionally,” says Revere.

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