Once you find out you’re pregnant, you’re immediately faced with a million choices. In fact, if you’ve been planning your pregnancy for a while, your non-stop decision engine’s probably been revving for a while. One of the most important decisions you’ll make is the health care providers who support you throughout your pregnancy and help you bring your little one into the world. Finding a provider who supports your birth choices and makes you feel comfortable can reduce some of the stress of labor and delivery.
Contact your insurance company to determine if you must choose a provider from their network. Talk with your agent about the services covered during pregnancy. For example, insurance companies cover doctors and midwives at different rates. The same may be true for hospitals versus birthing centers or home births.
Create a delivery doctor wish list. Decide if you’re more comfortable seeing a male or female doctor. List your ideal location and preferences for available office hours. Feel free to dream big. You may not get everything on your list, but it helps to have a clear idea of what you want.
Ask for referrals from your gynecologist or family doctor. Some gynecologists and prenatal care providers deliver your baby for you or work with a network of physicians who rotate or work on-call. to treat their patients. If this is the case, you still have the right to request a certain doctor or use a physician outside of your prenatal care provider’s circle.
Search the directory maintained by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to find providers in your area. Use broad search terms, then narrow the field using some of the items on your delivery doctor wish list.
Interview potential health care providers to help you narrow down your list of potential doctors. Ask important questions to make sure your delivering doctor supports your pregnancy choices. Discuss all your concerns, including your birth plan, circumcision position, feelings about pain medications, presence of a doula or support person, desired visitors and the doctor’s vacation schedule. Don’t settle for a doctor who doesn’t share or respect your values.
If you’re looking for a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered-friendly provider, contact the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association directory or ask referrals from friends and community support agencies . Knowing your provider is accepting of your sexual orientation can make birth a less stressful experience.