Find A Doctor
If you're considering getting pregnant or just found out you're pregnant, you will need to find an obstetrician, or OB. Your obstetrician is responsible for your prenatal care - helping to manage any conditions you may have during pregnancy, answering your questions and ensuring you have the healthiest possible pregnancy and baby. He or she also will most likely deliver your baby. Choosing your doctor is an important decision.
Why Prenatal Care Matters
Prenatal care is the care you get while you are pregnant - and ideally, even before you conceive. The role of prenatal care is to monitor the health and progress of a woman's pregnancy as well as find any potential problems before they become serious.
Women who receive prenatal care are more likely to have a healthy baby and less likely to have serious pregnancy-related problems. In fact, babies born to mothers who did not receive any prenatal care are three times more likely to be born at low birth weights than those whose mothers did receive prenatal care, according to the Health Resources and Services Administration's Maternal and Child Health Bureau.
In a February 2008 report from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the organization noted that more than 20 years of research "has shown conclusively that every dollar of prenatal care saves at least $3 in reduced spending for low-birth-weight and preterm infants."
Throughout the course of your pregnancy, you should expect the following from your doctor during prenatal visits:
- Education about pregnancy in general and yours specifically
- Monitoring of your medical conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes
- Testing for any health issues in the baby
- Testing for any medical conditions you may have, such as gestational diabetes
When To Have Your First Checkup
As soon as you determine you might be pregnant, call your doctor and schedule your first prenatal appointment. This appointment should ideally be within six to 12 weeks of conception. During this first visit, your doctor will confirm that you're pregnant and determine how far along you are (also known as the baby's gestational age) and your due date.
Your doctor also will want to discuss your overall health and identify risk factors to monitor during your pregnancy. During this appointment, be completely honest about your current lifestyle as well as your health history, including past pregnancies and abortions. You may also have an ultrasound at this appointment.
If you didn't a have physical before getting pregnant, your doctor will also check for:
- Immunity to measles and chicken pox. If you are not immune, your doctor may recommend vaccinations.
- Various health conditions. Health issues like high blood pressure or anemia can affect your pregnancy.
- Blood type. Your doctor will test for the Rh factor, a protein in red blood cells. When the baby's mother does not have the protein and the father does, the baby can inherit it. If the baby's blood is Rh-positive and the mother's blood is not, problems can result. Fortunately, medication can help prevent complications.
After your first appointment, you'll visit your doctor about every four weeks until 32 weeks, then about every two weeks until 36 weeks and weekly in the last month of pregnancy.
Checklist: What to Look for in an OB
As you know, choosing the doctor who will be with you for the next nine months is an important decision. If your gynecologist is also an OB, you're probably set. If you don't have an OB, consider asking a friend or family member or a trusted physician for a referral. Consider the following questions when making your decision.
- Do you feel comfortable with this doctor?
- Are you comfortable with the office and the staff?
- Does the OB welcome or even share your views on childbirth?
- Do you like the OB's approach toward labor and delivery?
- Is the doctor comfortable with your birth plan?
- Is the physician on your insurance plan?
- Is the physician's practice convenient to your work or home?
- If you're considered high-risk, does the OB handle high-risk pregnancies?
- Is the doctor board-certified?
- Are there any language barriers?
- Are you comfortable with the on-call/after-hours policies of this physician?
- Does the physician have privileges at the hospital where you want to deliver?
Find a Physician
Looking for an OB? Search Parker Adventist Hospital's online physician directory, or call our 303-777-6877.