This is the phase of a woman’s life wherein she needs utmost care. Regular health checks and continuous monitoring of the expecting mother and the baby is required. Throughout the nine months of pregnancy, there will be a number of healthcare professionals involved to ensure your well-being. Let us see who they are and what their role will be.
The three main health-care providers for pregnant women are an obstetrician, a family physician and a midwife (seen in countries outside India). Many other health-care professionals may also be a part of your health-care team including an anesthetist, nurse or a doula.
Choosing your team
Nowadays, women have the flexibility to choose their team of health care providers depending on various factors such as the type of pregnancy, their delivery preferences etc.
If you experience any symptoms associated with pregnancy, your first step is to consult your family physician. Almost every other family has this one doctor who you consult for even the smallest of the queries. They will confirm the pregnancy and advise you on choosing specialists to help monitor your pregnancy. After this, you need to see an obstetrician-gynecologist (OB-GYN) or a nurse-midwife. Many obstetricians work in the same practice with midwives so they can easily share the care of their patients. Always keep in mind to choose the best gynecologist. Spend some time and do a little research and then take a decision.
An OB-GYN is a doctor specializing in the care of women and their reproductive health. Obstetrics deals specifically with pregnancy and birth, and gynecology involves the care of the female reproductive system outside of pregnancy. Your obstetrician will guide you through the entire pregnancy and will be with you for your entire pregnancy medical care needs. This person will be there with you throughout your pregnancy and in most cases, will help you deliver your baby as well. So, it is vital to make an informed choice about your obstetrician-gynecologist.
A midwife offers similar services as an obstetrician but in a nonsurgical environment. Midwives are usually nurse practitioners who have additional training in midwifery. A midwife can be an excellent option for a low-risk pregnancy. You may need to see an obstetrician if there are any complications that arise during pregnancy, labor, or delivery. Midwifery and obstetrics can very often be complementary. Midwives don’t perform cesarean deliveries (commonly referred to as C-sections), so that procedure will be referred back to the obstetrician. Many midwives practice in diverse settings and can assist in deliveries that happen in hospitals, homes, or at special birthing centers. In India, the concept of a midwife is yet to gain popularity whereas, it is very common abroad.
This type of medical doctor has received specialized training in administering all types of anesthesia. Anesthesia can be used to ease or remove your pain. Types of anesthesia include general anesthesia for an emergency cesarean section; local anesthetics such as an epidural or spinal during labor, delivery, or cesarean section; and a morphine drip after a cesarean section. This person comes into picture only during or close to your due date or if you have any complications during the course of your pregnancy.
A doula is a layperson trained as a labor companion. Doulas aren’t medical professionals. Their primary role is to offer emotional and physical support during labor. Doulas can be involved throughout an entire pregnancy or just for labor and delivery. Doulas also offer support and advice after the birth (postpartum).
Apart from them, the other important people who play a vital role during your pregnancy and delivery are your partner, family members, and friends. Loved ones can be especially helpful during childbirth. They can provide support, hold your hand, give you a message, care for your older babies and help in many other ways. The key is to be comfortable with whomsoever you choose as your pregnancy help. This is the most important phase of your life and all the people that you choose should be approachable, positive and encouraging.
The internet has a plethora of options wherein you could find the best birthing center for your child’s delivery. So, finding the best choice for you when it comes to doctors, midwives or hospitals is now a cakewalk. Get into your internet search engine and key in ‘birthing center near me’ or ‘gynecologist near me’ and you are bound to get a hundred results. Carefully research and gather all the information, visit the hospital or doctor a few times (if you wish), take a few recommendations and then only make a decision.
Also read: Pregnant? 7 Things You Need To Do