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Choosing The Right Practitioner

Choosing The Right Practitioner

You have lots of decisions to make now that you're expecting a baby, and one of the first things you'll need to consider is who will care for you during your pregnancy - an obstetrician, a family practice physician, or a certified nurse-midwife. Each has different qualifications, philosophies, practice guidelines, and areas of expertise. Your choice will depend on your health and the type of pregnancy and birth experience you want.

  • The Obstetrician/Gynecologist (OB/GYN) is an M.D. who has specialized in the field of woman's health and pregnancy. They specialize not only in the care and treatment of the woman during the pregnancy, but also the labor and delivery of the baby.
  • The Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist, or perinatologist, is an OB who has received special training to care for high-risk pregnancies. Women may choose this specialist if they have had a previous complicated pregnancy, have a multiple birth pregnancy, or have preexisting medical conditions.
  • The Family Physician (FP)is an M.D. that has chosen to study family practice medicine. Family practice physicians treat men and women of all ages, and they also take care of women who are pregnant. Some FP’s deliver babies, while others provide prenatal care and have Ob/Gyn or midwifery colleagues who do the delivery.
  • The Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM) is a person who is trained in nursing and midwifery. A nurse midwife is focused on caring for women who are pregnant and generally is there for labor and delivery as well. Nurse midwives generally work with obstetricians as well. Midwives generally emphasize a low-intervention approach to pregnancy.

Each type of medical practitioner will treat you and your pregnancy differently. So before you decide on "the one," research each practitioner and practice as extensively you can.

Updated: 12/9/2012

Irina Burd, MD, PhD, Maternal Fetal Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.


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