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Pregnancy: Choosing a Health Professional

Topic Overview

It's important to find a doctor or midwife who can work closely with you and share in decision making. This partnership is key to getting the care that is best for you. And it will help you have the pregnancy and childbirth that you want.

Options for your care

Several types of health professionals are trained to provide care or support before, during, and after the birth. These include:

  • Family doctors who provide obstetric care. You may choose to have this type of doctor go on to be your child's doctor.
  • Registered midwives.
  • Obstetricians.
  • Perinatologists and obstetric medicine. These are doctors who specialize in care for pregnant people and unborn babies with certain medical risk factors. Obstetricians, midwives, and family doctors work with these specialists as needed.

Choosing a primary caregiver

Choosing a primary caregiver (family doctor, midwife, or obstetrician) depends on many things such as:

  • The type of care you want.
  • Where you want to give birth.
  • Whether your pregnancy is complex or high risk.
All primary caregivers will offer complete care during pregnancy, including regular appointments, ultrasounds, and routine blood work. They can all order prenatal lab work and screenings and can prescribe medicines.

Family doctors and midwives work with a specialist (obstetrician, perinatologist, or pediatrician—a children’s doctor) if any problems happen during your pregnancy, labour, birth, or after you give birth (postpartum).

Most medical doctors (MDs) provide care during birth only at hospitals. If you work with a midwife, you may be able to choose to give birth in a hospital, birth centre, or your home.

Doctors and midwives share the same goal. They both want you and your baby to be healthy and for you to feel respected and cared for. Sometimes their approaches to prenatal and birthing care are different. When you choose your health professional, ask questions about their philosophy and approach. Do the answers match your preferences and values?

Some doctors and midwives offer a group-practice approach. You get to choose a primary caregiver, but you will also see each of the other doctors or midwives at least once while you are pregnant. If your primary caregiver isn't available when you go into labour, you will be familiar with the doctor or midwife who will care for you when you deliver your baby.

Along with a trained medical professional, you may also want to use a doula. Doulas give physical and emotional support before, during, and after the birth. Many people use a doula along with a doctor or midwife.

Credits

Adaptation Date: 7/30/2021

Adapted By: Alberta Health Services

Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services

Adapted with permission from copyrighted materials from Healthwise, Incorporated (Healthwise). This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty and is not responsible or liable for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.