Friday, May 9, 2014

Choosing a Health Care Provider For Your Prenatal Care

When searching for a health care provider to manage your pregnancy you want someone who is well-qualified, has clinical experience and has a good reputation among those who you trust the most. With this being said, there are still some additional (personal) factors that one should consider when selecting a provider for prenatal care. The prenatal care experience lasts close to one year (including postpartum follow-up) so you want to be sure the relationship you have with your prenatal care provider is well-suited.

Share The Same Philosophy As Your Prenatal Care Provider.
You should make sure you share the same philosophy about a few issues relating to prenatal care. You do not want to be in conflict with your prenatal care provider as you approach your delivery date. Often times there can be more than one management option for your prenatal care.  You and your provider must work together to decide what works best for you.  It is crucial to have a mutual understanding of the risks and benefits of a particular clinical approach.

Prenatal Care Provider With Your Best Interest At Heart.
The options available to you might be defined by the services offered within a particular clinical setting (hospital, birthing center etc.). Be sure your prenatal care provider's decisions regarding your care are not determined by what services are available when the services you want might be available at another health care facility.  You want to really be sure your prenatal care provider has your best interest at heart and will advocate for you when handling your prenatal care.

Prenatal Care Provider With Patient Loyalty.
If a provider is busy and has a loyal patient following, you should feel confident that your treatment will be based on what you desire. 

There are two main topics most often at the center of any discussion surrounding the choice of a prenatal care provider . It is crucial to address these topics right up front to secure a good relationship. You do not want to ever feel you were misunderstood or deceived about what your expectations were at the time of your delivery (assuming there were no unusual circumstances).

The topics I am referring to are: "natural" childbirth and pain management options. 

Whether you choose a midwife or an obstetrician as your primary provider the same holds true. In either case, providers can still vary tremendously regarding these topics. It is simply about being on the same page with your prenatal care provider at the start.

The definition of what natural childbirth is and what adequate pain management is, can differ depending on who you talk to and what resources you read. It is very easy to put these topics aside at first as there is so much excitement about the pregnancy and the fact that your delivery seems so far off in the future. My suggestion is to initially discuss these subjects thoroughly and do not gloss over them. 

I think pain control in labor is a crucial topic you should discuss with your prenatal care provider from the start. I can think of nothing more upsetting to a patient than to not be in control of her options for pain control particularly if she is not aware of what the options are.

This article is certainly not the place to define natural childbirth or discuss pain management during labor. I simply want to bring this important topic to your attention.

The last question to consider when choosing a prenatal care provider has to do with who is anticipated to be there for your delivery. As a result of the tremendous overhead (medical practice expenses) and lifestyle issues for practitioners, it is virtually impossible, in this day and age, to be assured that you will have your prenatal care provider at your delivery. As a result , it is important for you to be aware of your prenatal care provider's arrangement for on-call coverage. Cross-covering with other prenatal care providers at the same health care facility is not unusual and may be necessary depending on the size of the medical group you are seeing for your prenatal care. It is simply about having this discussion with your provider at the start. Discussing these issues is what maintains a trusting relationship with your prenatal care provider.  The timing of events surrounding labor and delivery is not always foreseeable and there is not a perfect solution every time. What is important and acceptable to most patients is that a reasonable effort is made to fulfill one's expectations.

Prenatal Care

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