Steven & Diana
This has been the most incredible experience in our lives ... nothing but pure, raw emotion in every way possible. We are still in disbelief that we have our son, Michael Tyler, in our arms. He is such a beautiful baby ... perfect in every way. Tyler's birthmother was the most amazing young woman that we ever met. She is so beautiful, in and out, with a warm, caring heart and more ...
Among the multitude of choices you'll make during your pregnancy, one of the most significant is who will provide your prenatal care and deliver your baby.
The vast majority of women in the U.S. see a medical doctor specializing in OB/GYN (obstetrics and gynecology) for their prenatal care. Gynecology is the care of a woman, focusing mostly on the health of her reproductive organs: the uterus, cervix, ovaries, vagina, external genitalia, and breast health. You may have a gynecologist already. If so, and you have a good working relationship, you may want to keep the same doctor to care for you during your pregnancy. Obstetrics is the care of a pregnant woman and the delivery of her baby. You can see why the two combine into one medical specialty area, since it makes sense for a doctor who is providing your health care before you have a baby to provide you with care while you are pregnant. Obstetricians deliver most of the babies in this country, usually in hospital maternity units.
Some hospitals offer maternity units that are more like birthing centers. They might be separated from the rest of the hospital to provide a quiet, peaceful experience. They often include suites that are furnished the resemble a home environment, with the goal of helping the laboring mother be comfortable and relaxed during delivery. Many women choose this option because it provides them with a sense of home while being just down the hall from medical technology in case of an emergency. Similarly, birthing centers, often located steps away from a hospital, are a popular choice for labor and delivery. Birthing centers vary widely from homes renovated to accommodate laboring women and provide aftercare to top of the line technological centers complete with birthing hot tubs, massage therapists, hypnotherapists, and all the bells and whistles you could ask for.
If you wish to deliver your baby in a birthing center or specific hospital birthing unit, you will need to be sure to choose a doctor who practices there.
In addition to OB/GYNs, you could also choose a family practice doctor, a nurse practitioner, or a midwife to provide your care and to deliver your baby. In areas where obstetricians are few, such as rural towns, a family practice doctor has probably delivered most of the babies there for years and is well-trained with lots of experience. Sometimes, doctors of any sort are hard to come by, and nurse practitioners take up the slack in all fields of health care. Midwives often work in hospital birthing centers, freestanding birthing centers, and even do home births.
It is important that you, as a health care consumer, choose your provider wisely. All of these professionals have access to intensive training and internships. However, not all states require licensing of midwives, for example, so be sure to educate yourself about the experience and training of the person in whom you put your trust.