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What kind of practitioner should you have during pregnancy?

As an Oregon expectant mom, it may surprise you to learn that you have a choice when it comes to the health care professional you want to oversee your pregnancy, labor and delivery. Most women choose to go to an OB/GYN, but you do have other choices available as well.

WhatToExpect.com recommends that before choosing your practitioner, you take more than a few minutes to think about what you want out of your pregnancy and birth experience. For instance, do you want to give birth in a hospital, a birthing center or at home? Do you want an all-natural birth or are you already looking forward to your epidural? The answers to questions like these should make it easier to choose which kind of practitioner you want.

OB/GYN

An obstetrician-gynecologist is a doctor who in addition to his or her medical school training, also completed a residency program wherein (s)he learned about handling all aspects of pregnancy, labor, delivery and the postpartum period. (S)he therefore knows what red flags to look for during your pregnancy that may indicate a complication about to develop or happen. Should you ultimately require a C-section like one in three women do nowadays, (s)he can also perform that surgery. If you think you may be in for a high-risk pregnancy due to your diabetes or other condition, or if you think you may have a good possibility of carrying twins or triplets, you likely should choose an OB/GYN as your caregiver.

Family practitioner

A family practitioner is a generalist who likely can provide you with a one-stop shop for all your health and medical needs. (S)he does not, however, have the advanced education or training that an OB/GYN does. While you will be fine going to a family practitioner as long as your pregnancy progresses smoothly, (s)he likely is not your best choice if you have problems. In fact, depending on what they are, (s)he may refer you to one.

Certified nurse-midwife

A CNM receives reasonably extensive training in midwifery and is certified by the American College of Nurse-Midwives. If you really want your baby to be born in a birthing center or at home as opposed to in a hospital, a CNM is the only trained and licensed person who likely will do this. You need to know for certain, however, that (s)he truly is licensed and that you really are experiencing a low-risk pregnancy. While (s)he can give you an epidural and/or prescribe labor-inducing drugs, she is far less likely to offer these options than a physician will.

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.

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