Prenatal Care and Pregnancy Professionals

Your choices in pregnancy healthcare

Pregnancy is all about a loving couple and their developing baby, right? Well, although these are the stars of the show, few people make it through a pregnancy without getting at least a little help along the way. If you haven't visited a doctor in ages, get ready for a drastic change in your routine: you'll be stopping into your doctor's or midwife's clinic once a month during the first six months of pregnancy, then once every two weeks and then every week as you approach the big day.

Between preliminary visits, routine testing and coordinating your plans and preparations for the big day, you'll develop a close relationship with your care provider, so it makes good sense to choose wisely. Find out how the different types of prenatal professionals compare, tips for finding the right expert for you and other things to keep in mind when making this important decision.

Which Type of Pregnancy Healthcare is Right for Me?

Unless you're having a high risk pregnancy or dealing with a challenging complication, you have several options when it comes to pregnancy caregivers. From specialists to family doctors to nurse midwives, each type of prenatal professional will offer a unique brand of care and attention. And since having a baby is such an important event, this decision should not be taken lightly; your caregiver must not only be competent, but should also mesh with your personality, respect your views and calm you with a good bedside manner.

Doctors and midwives are the most familiar prenatal experts, but there are other types of childbirth professionals that play a very important role in labor and delivery, as well. Perhaps the most familiar non-medical figure is the doula, a trained coach and advisor who can provide emotional and physical support during labor and after the birth. She will enhance the support and expertise you get from your doctor and your supporting partner, friend or family, which can have a huge impact on the length and discomfort of your labor and delivery.

Not all pregnancies go as smoothly as expected, and if you're faced with a serious challenge or decision, you may find solace and encouragement through genetic counseling. If your genetics, age or medical history put your baby at risk for developing a serious birth defect or hereditary condition, you'll typically use the services of a genetic counselor early in your pregnancy and as you approach the time for certain genetic tests. From diagnosis to support, this type of counselor can help you navigate complex emotional terrain and help prepare you for raising a child that may have a serious medical condition.

The Cost of Prenatal Care

Having a baby isn't cheap, but the specific costs involved can range enormously with different levels of care. If you're uninsured, you may begin to hyperventilate as the bills for various tests, checkups and prescriptions roll in, but you should prepare yourself for regular and considerable expense even if you're insured. Much of this cost comes in the form of ultrasounds, tests and procedures, but any extra or special medical care (such as a genetic counselor or a neonatologist) will also add to your expenses.

A certified obstetrician/gynecologist (OBGYN) or nurse midwife is the base of your prenatal care, and you will need to pay them for their services at your monthly or weekly appointments throughout your pregnancy. If you are experiencing a high-risk pregnancy, you may need to spring for the services of a specialist, and then you may also require supplementary support in the form of a doula or genetic counselor. On top of this, it's highly recommended that you begin your search for a pediatrician well before you're due to give birth so your little one has the help they need right from the very start.

When you're expecting a baby, you're riding an emotional, physical and financial rollercoaster. Your caregiver will help overcome the emotional and physical problems, but will unfortunately feed your financial worries. Luckily, many countries feature a variety of ways to cover the costs, whether that's through group insurance or public assistance, so begin to explore all of your available options as early as you can.