Prenatal Care Options

The Purpose of Prenatal Care is to Monitor and Manage Any Problems that Arise During Pregnancy

The goal of your prenatal care is to monitor you and your baby so issues can be identified and resolved throughout your pregnancy. The care provider that you choose will take care of you during pregnancy, labor and the postpartum period. At 8-12 weeks, you will attend your first prenatal appointment, and at this time you will be given a wealth of information about options available to you in your area.

There are five main types of prenatal care. The majority of your care will be provided by an ob/gyn, unless you choose otherwise. In a group medical practice you will see two or more doctors throughout your pregnancy on a rotating basis. One of these doctors will be present at the hospital when you deliver. In a solo medical practice you will only see one doctor at every prenatal visit. This doctor will be at your birth at the hospital unless they are unavailable, in which case another doctor will fill in for them. In a combination practice you will see both doctors and midwives for your prenatal care. You will see a doctor and a midwife on a rotating basis. However, you should expect a doctor to be at your birth in the hospital. A maternity center practice may be an option for you if you have a low-risk pregnancy. Ob/gyns are typically available if needed for consultations. With this option, you will deliver your baby at the birthing center, unless complications arise, in which case you will be transferred to the hospital. You can also choose to have prenatal care from an independent certified nurse-midwife practice, which is not allowed in every state. This may be an appealing option if you have a low-risk pregnancy. You would see midwives for all your appointments as well as at your birth. When choosing the right fit for your prenatal care, you should look ahead to your birth and the kind of care that you would like. In choosing a birthing center or independent certified midwife, keep in mind that during birthing things can go wrong. Without doctors present there is a limited amount that can be done about pain management, and you may need to be transferred to a hospital if a C-section is needed. Weigh your options with your partner, and make the best decision that makes you feel the most comfortable.