Shortly after discovering I was pregnant with my first baby, my husband and I decided we wanted to move away from the fast-paced grind of New York City to raise our child closer to family in the South. Since we both had jobs in the Big Apple, this meant spending the first half of my pregnancy in New York and the second half in Georgia. Soon after my 20-week ultrasound (“It’s a girl!”), I embarked on a journey to find a new care provider—and learned a lot along the way.
While many mamas end up delivering at the hospital their current OB/GYN’s practice is affiliated with, I had the luxury of picking the egg before the chicken. At 20 weeks and barely showing, I hiked up my newly purchased, still baggy maternity jeans and toured each hospital in my area. While I felt a little out of place as the “least pregnant” one in the tour group, I quickly saw the benefit of choosing the hospital before the doctor.
After deciding that the biggest, most popular hospital in the area (dubbed the “baby factory” by supporters and disparagers alike) was not for me, I settled on a reputable hospital with a smaller maternity wing where I felt I would receive more personalized care.
OB vs. midwife, male vs. female
Once I had selected a hospital, the pool of potential OB practices had narrowed significantly. At the time, I was leaning toward having a midwife deliver the baby instead of an OB. The all-female OB group I had started out with in NYC had three midwives on staff, and I felt that they had taken more time answering my questions than the doctors and seemed more personable too. There was only one practice with a midwife affiliated with my newly chosen hospital, but there were other factors to consider before committing.
Although I liked the idea of having a midwife deliver my baby, I also felt more comfortable seeing a woman OB than a man. The group with a midwife on staff had both male and female doctors who I would have to see throughout my pregnancy. If for some reason the midwife was not available when I went into labor, I would be forced to let the on-call doctor deliver the baby instead. On the recommendation of a friend, I decided to check out another, all-female practice—even though it didn’t have a midwife on staff.
Following my initial appointment with one of the women in the group, I felt confident I had found my doctor. She was as warm and patient as the midwives I had first seen in New York. Once I’d met with every doctor in the group, I knew I would be happy to have any one of them deliver our newest family member.
Baby doctor breakdown
While my search for a doctor was probably more complicated than most, I learned some valuable lessons from which every newly pregnant woman could benefit. Even if you’ve gone to the same OB/GYN for years before your pregnancy, it’s important to remember that doctor visits during pregnancy are a little different from your annual exam. You’ll now be seeing your practitioner regularly, not just once a year. To ensure you have a positive pregnancy and delivery experience, ask yourself the following questions before settling on your care group:
- At which hospital or birthing center do I want to deliver?
- Do I want a doctor or a midwife to deliver my baby?
- Am I more comfortable with a male or female doctor?
- If the OB or midwife I have chosen is not available when I go into labor, will I be comfortable with the person on call?
With a little research on the front end, you can ensure that every memory associated with your pregnancy—from the first appointment to the delivery room—is one you will cherish forever.