What to Consider When Picking an OBGYN / Midwife:

Whether you're just thinking about getting pregnant or already a few weeks along, it can be worth thinking about your health care provider and what kind of birth you want. 

Why so early? Because the more pregnant you are, the harder it can be to switch providers. There’s also a lot you don’t know you don’t know if this is your first pregnancy. Here’s are a few things to think about, so you can have the best experience possible.

to epidural or not?

  • This is the big question. If you are considering giving birth without pain medication, it can be good to discuss with your provider at the start of your pregnancy. Going without an epidural is a real commitment, and some doctors are more supportive of it than others.
  • Moms who want to have an unmedicated birth can really benefit from additional guidance and support. You might want to look into midwife practices that make epidural-free births a center of their practice, and consider hiring a doula who will essentially coach you through the birthing process.
  • If you know you want to have an epidural, it doesn’t hurt to discuss with your doctor and get on the same page. It is not common, but there are some scenarios where getting an epidural is not possible.

location, location, location

  • Once pregnant, you might be going to the doctor as often as once a month for the first 34 weeks of your pregnancy, and then even more frequently at the end. So where their office is located will be important for convenience. And keep in mind that most appointments will happen in the middle of the day.
  • Most providers deliver babies at certain hospitals and/or birthing centers, regardless of where you live. So it's good to find out exactly where they deliver. In addition to checking distance, you might want to see if the hospital they deliver at has private rooms, lactation consultants on staff, and a NICU.

show me the money: insurance

You might want to get a rough estimate of how much it will cost for your regular doctors’ appointments and testing. It will really vary depending on if you have health insurance and what that plan is like, what your provider charges, and even where you live.

  • If you are insured, a (relatively) quick call to your health insurer should give you a rough estimate. Call the customer service number, often on the back of your card, and ask if your provider is covered and what you'll owe for a prenatal check-up. Then listen for whether you have a copay, coinsurance, and/or a deductible.
  • If you don’t have health insurance, you still have options. Call your provider and ask them for the price upfront.  Persistence pays off on this front, and the first person you talk to probably won't know. You’ll want to try to reach someone who is the practice manager or who works in billing. Staff at the front desk can often guide you to the right person. You can then try to negotiate a discount of flat fee. At the very least, it's worth asking.

Last Updated: October 2017

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