Finding a Medical Provider
After confirming her pregnancy it is important for a woman to establish professional medical care. She may choose an Obstetrician/Gynecologist (medical doctor specializing in pregnancy and delivery) or a midwife (licensed healthcare professional specially trained to care for low-risk pregnancies) or a Family Practitioner (medical doctor trained in primary care, obstetrics, and pediatrics).
While a lot of care is fairly standardized, each pregnancy is a unique situation that requires personal care. Habits, nutritional and exercise issues, environmental factors and other aspects that may not seem significant but may in fact have an impact on health.
What the physician will do for you:
A physician will follow up with a woman’s positive urine pregnancy test with a blood test that measures the level of hCG (pregnancy hormone).
A typical visit will include:
- Health History Intake
- Physical exam, including height, weight, and blood pressure.
- Pelvic exam to check the size and shape of the uterus.
- A PAP test to check for HPV (a virus that increases the risk for cervical cancer), Gonorrhea and Chlamydia (fairly common sexually transmitted diseases).
- Urine and blood tests to check for bacteria, glucose levels, protein levels and iron deficiency.
- Other test as applicable to each individual’s medical needs.
How to choose a provider:
A woman will have an intimate and on-going relationship with her healthcare provider, so it is important that she choose someone who is qualified and whom she trusts to seek out her input and respect her decisions about her prenatal care and delivery. Here are some questions to consider:
- What does her financial situation allow? If finances are a challenge, review the Community Resources listed on the Web site. There are programs that can assist with or even cover healthcare costs and more.
- Does she want to have a hospital birth, deliver at a birthing center, or at home? Does her health and the circumstances of her pregnancy allow her to choose a birthing option outside of the hospital?
- Who else may be present or participate in my delivery and care: nurses, midwife, doula, etc.?
- Does the healthcare provider share or respect her religious or moral convictions concerning things that may influence her pregnancy choices?
- Does it matter if her provider is male or female?
- Who will deliver if her provider is unavailable at the time of birth?
All this probably leaves her with even more questions. She can take a deep breath and remember: pregnancy and birth are normal, natural processes that have been occurring since the beginning of time. There are answers to her questions.
A woman shouldn’t hesitate to interview different healthcare providers to find one that is a good fit for her needs. Doing a little research will help her feel more comfortable with the medical provider she chooses.